Public Charge

New Public Charge Policy

Under longstanding federal policy, the federal government may deny a non-US citizen entry into the United States, or adjustment to lawful permanent resident status (a green card), if he or she is determined likely in the future to become a public charge based on the totality of the individual's circumstances.

Last year, the federal government released a new public charge policy that changes how this determination is made. Overall, it will become harder for lower-income immigrants to obtain green cards, including due to factors other than public benefits.

One key change relates to use of public benefits. Although use of public benefits has long been considered as one factor in the public charge determination, the new policy expands the types of public benefits that are considered.

Beginning February 24, 2020, the federal government will implement this new policy. Individuals will be required to disclose whether they have applied for or use certain public benefits as part of their immigration application. An immigration attorney can advise what public benefits must be disclosed as part of the application.

Every Family Is Different, Reach Out For Qualified Legal Advice

It is important for concerned individuals and families to know their rights and empower themselves with accurate information to understand whether the new policy affects them and if so, how they can access the information and services necessary to build a positive case for their application.

If you have questions about your specific situation, an immigration or public benefits attorney can give you advice based on your individual situation.

For further information please see the below resources, including a list of non-profit legal services providers located across California.

The Policy Applies Only To Certain Immigrants And Only In Specific Circumstances

It is important to note that public charge policy is not applicable to all immigrants. [*]

* The public charge regulation does not apply to refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others. It also does not apply to most lawful permanent residents, unless they leave the United States for over 180 days and seek to reenter.

Forward Looking, Whole Person Assessment

While this policy considers the use of public benefits, there are numerous other factors that are part of the consideration of an immigrant's individual circumstances, including income, age, health, family status, education and skills, financial status, assets, and, when applicable, a sponsor's affidavit of support.

California Is Fighting Back

The State of California opposes this new policy and will continue to fight it in court. Additionally, California laws that prohibit discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status remain in effect.

The Governor's Office has issued the following statement related to public charge: