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Public Charge Rule – What You Need to Know Right Now

The Trump administration has just issued a new regulation on what it means to be a public charge and how receiving public benefits can result in a denial of an application for a green card/legal permanent residency.

Which Benefits Are Affected?

  • Federal, state, local and tribal cash assistance, and long-term care
  • SNAP (CalFresh, or “food stamps”)
  • Public Housing–Section 8 (including vouchers and rental assistance)
  • Medicaid BUT WITH EXEMPTIONS (children under 21 and pregnant women, new mothers for 60 days after delivery are exempt, and certain services provided to individuals living with disabilities or that are provided in school)

Will receiving these benefits in any amount or for any period of time mean you will be deemed public charge?

Yes, possibly.

Receipt of any public benefit, that’s listed above, after October 15, 2019, for a period of more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36 month period could result in being deemed a public charge. If you receive more than one benefit, it will be doubled in the months counted (e.g. SNAP and Housing assistance in one month = 2 months counted).

Who Is Not Included As part of the Public Charge Test?

The use of benefits by refugees, asylum seekers, certain victims of domestic violence and children who qualify for “special immigrant juvenile status” is not included.  Also, those enlisted in the military (and their spouses and children) are not included in the new public charge test.

 I Get Benefits For My Child, But Not For Myself, Does This Law Affect Me?

If you are not directly receiving public benefits for yourself and no one else is asking for benefits for you, then most likely this regulation does not apply to you. 

I Receive One or More of These Benefits, What Should I Do?

You DO NOT have to stop your benefits and should not, right now. The regulation has a 60-day waiting period before it becomes law. This new regulation will not take effect, if it does at all, until October 15, 2019, and does not count against you any benefits before Oct. 15, 2019. But even before then, there are advocates across the country filing lawsuits with the court to stop this new change from ever taking place.

I Don’t See My Public Benefits Listed, Why Is That?

The new regulation does not include some public benefits in its consideration for a public charge determination:

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is not included.
  • Medicaid used by children is not included
  • WIC is not included
  • Medicare Part D is not included
  • Survivors of Domestic Violence, Trafficking, or other serious crimes (U or T visa applicants/holders) are exempted
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles are exempted
  • DACA & TPS also exempted


If you need to speak to someone about your situation, please call Bet Tzedek at 323-549-5833.

Keep checking back on this website for updated information and resources as they become available.