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New Public Charge Rule Becomes Effective October 15th

APLA Health is here to help if you are concerned about your status and your use of public benefits

The Trump Administration’s new rule on public charge becomes effective October 15, 2019, and may cause both concern and barriers for immigrants entering the U.S. or those here legally who want to change their visa/immigration status.

It is important to know that several legal challenges are seeking to stop the new public charge rule from being implemented. If successful, the new rule will be delayed or it could potentially never go into effect.

Many immigrants will not be affected by the new rule. In general, public charge does NOT apply to lawful permanent residents (green card holders) who apply for citizenship, refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, certain trafficking victims, certain victims of qualifying criminal activity, or certain victims of domestic violence, among others.

If you need more information about public charge and whether the new rule applies to you, please see these fact sheets from Protecting Immigrant Families and the California Health and Human Services Agency. An immigration or public benefits attorney can also give you advice based on your specific situation. You can find a list of legal services providers on the California Department of Social Services website.

The new public charge rule expands the list of public programs that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may use to determine whether someone is, or is likely to be, a “public charge” – in other words someone who is likely to rely on government programs as their main source of support.

Under longstanding policy, an individual deemed likely to become a public charge can be denied individual entry to the U.S. or have their legal permanent resident status adjusted. The new rule means that the use of some government programs — even for limited periods of time — may be considered by DHS in its public charge determination.

Previously, only cash assistance and government-funded long-term care were considered when determining an immigrant’s public charge status. The new rule expands the definition of public charge to include a wider range of health and safety-net programs.

Programs included in the new public charge rule include:

  • Any Federal, State, Local or Tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, including TANF or CalWORKs, SSI and general assistance programs
  • Medicaid (except for emergency services, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers up to 60 days postpartum)
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Subsidized public housing
  • CalFresh or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The rule does not include Ryan White programs, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS) or medical, dental or behavioral health services provided through community health centers, such as APLA Health’s health centers. The use of state, local and tribal funded non-cash programs are also not included in the rule.

The new public charge rule is not retroactive. This means that benefits – other than cash assistance or long-term care at government expense – that are used before the rule goes into effect will not be considered in public charge determinations.

Use of public benefits alone will not automatically make you a public charge. Immigration officials must look at all your circumstances in determining whether you are likely to become a public charge in the future, including your age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, and family who will support you.

If you are concerned about your status and your use of public benefits, call APLA Health’s Benefits Department at 213.201.1615 for an appointment. They may be able to address some of your concerns or refer you to an immigration lawyer for additional advice.