Understanding Public Charge

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What is Public Charge?    En español >

Public charge is a test used by immigration officials to determine who can become legal permanent resident. Historically, an applicant for residency is deemed a public charge if they are likely to depend on cash assistance (TANF, SSI, and other state cash assistance) or institutional long-term care to support themselves.

It is important to note that Public Charge rule is not retroactive.

Who is subject to the public charge test?

Applicants adjusting their status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) within the U.S.

Individuals applying to be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) outside of the U.S.

Green Card holders seeking readmission after leaving the country for more than six months (180 days)

Visa applicants

The public charge test does not apply to refugees, asylum seekers, T or U visa holders,

VAWA petitioners, special juvenile immigrants, or parolees.

Th new rule will go into effect on February 24, 2020. Families should continue receiving the assistance they need. If families have additional concerns, please seek legal counsel.

What is the new public charge rule?

The new public charge policy broadens the type of benefits considered. In addition to:

Cash assistance

Institutional long-term care

The new public charge now includes:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamps)

Section 8 housing assistance

Medicaid – Short-term rehabilitative care

To make this determination, immigration officials weigh an applicant’s total circumstances, including health, family status, affidavit of support, financial status, assets, age, and education.

Which benefits are exempt from the public charge test?

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (Prescriptions)

Medicaid – Emergency services, pregnant women, new mothers (60 days), & children under 21

Disaster relief

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Head Start

National School Breakfast & Lunch Program

Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)

Federal Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit

More information is available

The Protecting Immigrant Families website contains multiple resources to learn more about what these immigration policies mean for you, your family and your community. Several links to resources from this website are below:

Know Your Rights

Special Resources 

Analysis & Research

How is the Tulsa community involved?

In 2019, the Community Service Council, YWCA Tulsa, and Hunger Free Oklahoma came together to join a national campaign known as the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign to lift up immigrant voices and advocate for humane immigration policies in the Tulsa community.

As official Protecting Immigrant Families Partner Organizations, these three organizations represent Tulsa among hundreds of diverse organizations from across the nation. Partner Organizations focus on employing innovative advocacy strategies, distributing educational resources, and keeping allies informed of all the current and potential policies that impact immigrant families.

Learn more about the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign