Public Charge

Public Charge

Public Charge changes could impact the health of individuals in our region.

This webpage is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: November 5, 2018


The Federal Register published the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on Public Charge.


What is Public Charge? When an individual applies for Lawful Permanent Residency status (also known as a Green Card), the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) evaluates whether the applicant has used – or is likely to use – certain public benefits that could make them a public charge. If so, this is a negative factor against the applicant’s request for Lawful Permanent Residency.

Public Charge has been around since 1999, however currently an individual is considered a Public Charge only if they depend on the government for cash assistance for income maintenance (e.g., TANF or SSI) or on government-funded long-term institutional care.

Public Charge test applies in two situations: 1) When a person applies to enter the U.S., 2) when a person applies to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) The test is not used when applying to become a U.S. citizen.


Under the proposed rule posted on the Federal Register the following programs would be considered when determining if an immigrant is likely to become a public charge.

  • Health coverage through Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California), except for emergency Medicaid (known as emergency Medi-Cal in California)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP (known as CalFresh in California)
  • Rental assistance under Section 8 housing assistance, Project Based Section 8, and Public Housing
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (known as CalWORKs in California)
  • Low income subsidies for prescription drugs costs under Medicare Part D

Also being considered is the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Rule is not retroactive. Use of benefits are not considered until 60 days after the rule becomes final (which has not occurred).

Excluded from Public Charge are certain humanitarian immigrants, including refugees, asylees, individuals applying for U visas or T visas, children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and women, men, or children applying for a Green Card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Public Comment period: Wednesday, October 10, 2018 through Monday, December 10, 2018.

You may submit an comment via web on by simply clicking here

You may submit written comments here –

Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20529-2140

To ensure proper handling, please reference DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012 in your correspondence. Mail must be postmarked by the comment submission deadline.


Contact the Community Health Association Inland Southern Region at (909) 566-2555 or at ssanchez@

DHCS All county Welfare Directors Letter

California Primary Care Association’s Public Charge Toolkit

Community Health Center Talking Points 

NACHC FAQ’s on Public Charge Proposal