Public Charge

Public Charge

This webpage is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: August 14, 2020

Important COVID-19 & Public Charge Information

“USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination, nor as related to the public benefit condition applicable to certain nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status, even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g. federally funded Medicaid)”


On July 29, 2020 a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in State of New York determined that the Public Charge rule could not be enforced, applied, implemented or treated as effective for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On August 12, 2020 the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit stayed the nationwide injunction of the Public Charge rule granted by the lower court on July 29, 2020, for all states except for Vermont, Connecticut and New York. This means that the Public Charge rule still stands in the state of California. 


What is the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule (most commonly known as 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 Public Charge Rule the following programs would be considered when determining if an immigrant is likely to become a public charge.

  • CalFresh or SNAP
  • Medi-Cal or Medicaid
  • In-home Supportive Services Program
  • Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • CalWORKs or TANF cash assistance
  • State and local cash assistance programs
  • Public assistance for long-term care in an institution

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 Charge rule went into effect on February 24, 2020 

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

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