IMPORTANT UPDATE — MARCH 9, 2021: Both the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule and the Department of State (DOS) public charge policy are currently not in effect. The DHS rule was halted on March 9, 2021, while the DOS policy was paused indefinitely on July 29, 2020. This page reflects those policies, which initially took effect on Feb. 24, 2020, and will not be immediately updated according to the previous, longstanding guidance issued in 1999. Learn more.
USCIS is very clear which benefits are considered and which benefits are not considered. You can see this USCIS fact sheet for the listed benefits: https://www.uscis.gov/news/public-charge-fact-sheet
The DHS public charge rule directs immigration officers to consider a green card applicant's use of certain public benefits as a "negative factor" that could result in the denial of the application.
It's important to understand, however, that if you're applying for a green card, you probably are not eligible for these public benefits in the first place:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly known as “welfare”
- State and local cash assistance, sometimes called “General Assistance”
- Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as "food stamps")
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
- Public Housing
- Non-emergency Medicaid, but *no penalties* for the following exempt categories:
- Children under 21
- People with disabilities
- Pregnant women
- Mothers (within 60 days after giving birth)
- Children of U.S. citizens born abroad and acquiring citizenship through a parent
If you are a U.S. citizen sponsoring a family member, your own use of any public benefits will not be used to penalize your family member.
If you are a green card applicant who applied for public benefits solely on behalf of your child or another family member, you will not be penalized for applying for those benefits.
Finally, there are a great many public benefits that nobody is going to be penalized for using under any circumstances, including:
- Emergency medical assistance
- Disaster relief
- National school lunch or school breakfast programs
- Foster care and adoption
- Head Start
- Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Tax Credit (CTC)
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Medicare Part D (this was part of the proposed rule's listed benefits, but not the final rule)
More information is available in our comprehensive public charge guides: https://www.boundless.com/public-charge-rule/
Please do not dis-enroll from any public benefit programs without speaking with an attorney first!