Understanding Changes to Public Charge

While the Public Charge rule has now been published in the federal register, multiple federal courts have blocked President Trump’s Public Charge regulation from going into effect. This rule changes the way the government makes “public charge” determinations, making it much easier for the government to deny a person an immigrant visa or admission to the United States.


The message is clear. This new rule is meant to deter and intimidate non-citizens and their families by creating additional obstacles preventing them from obtaining lawful permanent residence. It targets children, older applicants, persons with disabilities, persons who lack English proficiency, and persons with low incomes, making it more difficult for them to successfully be lawfully admitted into the United States. As our partners at Protecting Immigrant Families have said, this racially-motivated “wealth test” rigs the rules against immigrants and their families who are the pathway to a green card.


In determining whether someone will be denied admission because they are labeled a “public charge,” the new rule changes what factors immigration officials can consider in making this determination. With this new rule, officials can target factors such as age, health, family status, income and resources, education, and skills (including English proficiency). Moreover, the new rule penalizes applicants for enrollment in additional public programs, including non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance.


But thanks to these legal challenges, the rule is not yet in effect. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out the Protecting Immigrant Families website, which has a wealth of frequently updated resources on public charge for immigrants, their families, and social service providers.

To see whether or not public charge applies to you, click here.

For a list of resources in other languages, click here.