Public Charge and Immigrant Families

Current Events & News, Legislation | 08/16/2019

Shannon Campion
Chief of State Operations, Stand for Children

The federal government has officially published a new version of the “public charge” rule, which affects immigrants applying for green cards and visas. The updated rule will deny green cards and visas to immigrants who access – or are expected to eventually need – public benefits like SNAP housing assistance and Medicaid.

This move is a deliberate attempt to penalize low-income immigrant families but still want to ensure their children have the healthcare, nutrition, and shelter needed to survive and thrive.

We know this new rule could potentially have an impact on some of our Stand families, so we want to keep you informed.

Here are some important facts to know right now:

- A public charge assessment is made when a person:
      a) applies to enter the U.S.           
      b) apples to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident/obtaining a green card           
      c) a green card holder leaves the U.S. for more than 180 consecutive days (6 months) and re-enters

- Public charge does not apply to current green card holders applying for U.S. citizenship, refugees and asylum seekers, and others who receive protective status under special circumstances.

- The new rule will not go into effect until October 19, 2019.

- Public benefits that would classify someone as a public charge now include SNAP, Medicaid, cash assistance, and housing assistance.

- Any benefits accessed prior to October 19 will not be considered in a public charge test.

- Benefits used by family members are not counted in an individual’s public charge test if those family members are not applying for green cards themselves.

- There is still a chance to stop this rule from taking effect through legal challenges.

- The best thing a family can do right now is to keep meeting their children’s needs and accessing the services they need to keep their children healthy and safe.

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