Public Charge


A new “public charge” immigration regulation finalized September 8, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adds critical protections to secure immigrant families’ access to the health and social services safety net. The new regulation takes effect on December 23, 2022. Until then, the rule doesn’t change. Review the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page to learn about the rule that is currently in effect. 

The new rule, effective December 23, 2022, clarifies and confirms what is and is not considered in a public charge determination:

  • Confirms that using CalFresh, housing assistance, and Medi-Cal (except for long-term care in a nursing home) for you or your family will not affect your immigration status 

  • Cash benefits received by a family member, like a child or spouse, will not affect you when you apply for a green card!  

  • Clarifies that many immigration statuses are exempt from the public charge test, including: people with green cards (unless they leave the US for 6 months in a row or longer), people applying for citizenship, refugees/asylees, U and T Visa applicants and holders, VAWA self-petitioners, TPS, SIJS, and many others!  

  • For those actually subject to a public charge test, the new regulations direct immigration officers who are making public charge determinations to consider all of an applicant’s circumstances (age, health, income, education, and family size), as well as an Affidavit of Support, when required. These factors will be balanced - no one factor alone will make someone likely to become a public charge. 

  • Makes it harder for future presidents to radically change public charge policy in the future

Important Facts to Know!

1

The previous administration’s public charge test ended! Use CalFresh, Medi-Cal, Section 8, and Public Housing without fear to keep your family healthy and safe!

2

The public charge test does not apply to all immigrants.

3

If you or your family member is eligible for a public benefit, then using that benefit most likely will not affect your immigration status.

4

The public charge test does not consider the use of MOST public benefits.

5

BAILA Network enrollers, promotores, and lawyers can answer your questions and help you get the benefits you need to keep your family healthy and safe!

You can also use the Keep Your Benefits guide to learn more about whether the test may apply to you.

If the public charge test does apply to you, speak with a trusted BAILA Network partner to learn which benefits programs you may be eligible for.

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Learn more in our Frequently Asked Questions