ALERT: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began applying the new public charge rule on February 24, 2020. On November 2, 2020, a Federal District Court in Illinois issued a ruling that blocked the new public regulation nationwide. The following day, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that allows the federal government to continue applying public charge rule while litigation continues. This means that the new public charge rule remains in effect.
This is not the first time the public charge rule has been stopped and re-started in the courts. Legal challenges to the new public charge rule will continue in the courts. Regardless of the outcome of those challenges, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Many immigrants are not subject to the public charge test. The test does not apply to refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, and persons applying for immigration status as survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and other serious crimes.
- There is no public charge test when a legal permanent resident applies for citizenship or renews a green card. Legal permanent residents are only subject to the public charge rule when returning to the U.S. after remaining abroad for 180 days or more, or when returning from abroad with certain criminal history.
- Many public benefits are not considered. State and locally funded health care programs such as MyHealth L.A. are not included in the public charge test. Nutritional programs like WIC, school lunches, food pantries and food banks, shelters, child care assistance, and many other programs are not considered. Disability, paid family leave, and unemployment insurance are considered earned benefits (a person only qualifies if they paid into the system) – accessing those benefits will not count against a person in the public charge test.
For information about the status of the public charge rule and questions about public benefits considered under the rule, you may contact the Office of Immigrant Affairs at: (800) 593-8222.