We do not accept consultations on immigration law, so please be sure to check the latest information/forms on the USCIS website and with experts such as immigration lawyers.
“Public charge” or the “public charge test” is used by immigration officials to decide whether a person can enter the U.S. or get a green card (lawful permanent resident or “LPR” status). In this test, officials look at a person’s circumstances, including income, employment, health, education or skills, family situation, and whether a sponsor signed a contract (“affidavit of support”) promising to support the person. Officials can also look at whether a person has used certain benefit programs (in the past, only cash assistance and long-term care were counted).
The government is changing how it makes public charge decisions. Immigration officials will look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, “EBT” or “Food Stamps”)
*Services not listed above will not be counted in the new public charge test. This includes WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, and many more
The new changes will not be used by immigration officials until October 15 and will apply only to applications that are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after October 15. If you are applying for a green card in the U.S., the use of the non-cash benefits listed above will not be counted in a public charge test.
It will not affect the citizenship applicants and Green Card renewal. Green Card holders are not impacted either; however, if you plan to leave the country for more than six months, it is a good idea to talk with an immigration attorney.
The rule may be blocked or delayed further with legal challenges.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding public charges, please contact the immigration hotline (Free).