The administration finalized its "public charge" rule in August 2019. “Public charge” is a test to see if someone is likely to become dependent on specific government programs. The government uses this test when someone applies for a family-based green card or certain visas.

Right now, the only programs that are a part of the public charge test are: cash assistance (like TANF, SSI, and GA) and institutionalized long-term care (like living in a nursing home) through Medicaid. The new rule will add programs like SNAP, Section 8 housing and housing vouchers, and non-emergency Medicaid to the benefits that, if received by the applicant, could make it harder to get a family-based green card. Moreover, the administration has added many "negative factors" to the public charge determination, including not speaking English, being under 18 or over 61, or having a disability or medical condition.

If this rule is allowed to go into effect on October 15th, it will have a devastating impact on millions. We should be defined by how we contribute to our communities—not by how much money we have.

What you need to know:

  • The rule is NOT in effect until 10/15 and is not retroactive, so no one should stop accessing programs right now!

  • Refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, and other humanitarian statuses are exempt from the rule.

  • The rule does NOT impact people with green cards who are applying for citizenship.

  • Under the final rule, only receipt of benefits by the individual - not their family members - is considered.

  • Advocates have already filed many lawsuits against the rule, so there is a good chance the rule could be stopped by a judge.

We are most worried about the chilling effect - that is, people taking themselves off of life-saving programs out of fear of jeopardizing their status. Providing accurate information is the best way to counter the administration's harmful intentions.

Please visit our “Public Charge Information” self-help page for the most up-to-date information.