Public charge is used by immigration officials to decide whether a person can enter the U.S. or get a green card (lawful permanent resident or “LPR” status). In this test, officials look at all of a person’s circumstances, including income, employment, health, education or skills, family situation and whether a sponsor signed a contract (“affidavit of support”) promising to support the person. Officials can also look at whether a person has used certain benefit programs.
Changes to Public Charge (August 2019)
The government is changing how it makes public charge decisions. Immigration officials will look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
- Medicaid (except for emergency services, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers)
- Cash assistance programs (like SSI, TANF, General Assistance)
These new changes will not be used by immigration officials until October 15, 2019, and will apply only to applications that are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after October 15th.
See If Public Charge Affects You (LIBRE Project)
Train the Trainer: Messaging Public Charge (California Primary Care Association)