CIANA Explains: Will Public Charge Affect Me?


The Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule has been the subject of much controversy since it was first announced in August 2018. Originally scheduled to go into effect October 15, 2019, a federal judge in Manhattan temporarily blocked Public Charge from going into effect on its scheduled date. The federal Department of Justice will most likely appeal this ruling.

This past August, the Trump administration published a final draft of the Public Charge rule, which outlines how one may be deemed a public charge.

What has changed with the “final” rule?

The final rule will now apply to a specific set of individuals who receive certain government benefits and along with the totality of their circumstances, such as age, income, and education, are determined to be a public charge. They will be examined based on the public benefits they receive, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and public housing, in order to decide whether or not they should be denied entry or receive a green card.

What is difficult about this rule change is that becoming a public charge is not automatically predicated on receiving any of these public benefits. An individual might be considered a public charge if they receive certain benefits that are identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and are also submitting an application for green card, nonimmigrant visa, or extending an existing visa. The rule change does not apply to those who are considering applying in the future nor to those who have applied prior to October 15, 2019.

Who does the new public charge not apply to and which benefits are exempt?

The new rule does NOT apply to the following individuals:

U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to a noncitizen who is subjected to the public charge ruling

  • Existing green card holders

  • Refugees and asylees

  • Special immigrant visas given to immigrants of specific origin

  • Non-immigrant trafficking and crime victims (T and U visas)

  • Applicants and recipients of the Violence Against Women Act, special immigrant juveniles, or to those who DHS has granted a waiver of public charge inadmissibility