What Is the New Public Charge Rule?
On February 24, 2020, new income-based requirements for Green Cards and certain visa eligibility went into effect. These changes have reshaped the Public Charge Rule, a law which has historically enabled the government to consider the likelihood of an individual becoming a “public charge,” or dependent on public assistance in the future when determining an applicant’s case for adjustment of status.
READ: Important COVID19 Update
The Trump Administration’s decision to broaden the type and amount of public benefits that count against individuals seeking to stay in the U.S. severely impacts immigrants’ eligibility for adjustment of status (i.e. attaining a Green Card). This effectively shuts our country’s doors to low-income and working-class people from developing countries and spreads fear in immigrant communities.
Check out our Public Charge Webinar today
Scroll to learn who is impacted, important information for gender violence survivors, and resources for those with questions about the new rule.
IMPORTANT: COVID-19 UPDATE
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified that seeking or using medical treatment or preventive healthcare services related to COVID-19 will NOT be considered under the Public Charge rule, even if the services are Medicaid-funded. Seek care without fear.
USCIS Statement: “USCIS encourages all those, including aliens, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventive services. Such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.” Read more…
The Public Charge Test
In order to determine whether or not an individual may become reliant on public assistance, the government has developed a system that weighs factors like income, employment, family size, health, and past usage of federal benefits. In February 2020, the Trump Administration made several significant changes expanding the types of public assistance that negatively impact an applicant’s case for adjustment of status.
Public benefits considered in the new public charge rule:
- SNAP (food stamps)
- Federally-funded Medicaid, unless it’s Emergency Medicaid
- Public housing and Section 8 assistance
BENEFITS NOT CONSIDERED
Public benefits NOT included in the new public charge rule:
- WIC or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children
- Emergency Medicaid
- Healthcare services (H+H options, community health centers)
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Essential Plan
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Any receipt of federal benefits by an individual’s U.S. citizen children
INDIVIDUALS NOT AFFECTED
Immigrants NOT affected by the new public charge rule:
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
- Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ)
- T & U Visa holders
- VAWA status holders
- Other humanitarian statuses
Do not disenroll from your current public benefits before speaking to a knowledgeable immigration practitioner. There is no reason to stop receiving the benefits that you and your family need if you will not be affected by the new public charge rule.
How The New Public Charge Rule Impacts Gender Violence Survivors & Immigrant Communities
While there are important exceptions to the rule—including refugees, asylum applicants, victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes, VAWA self-petitioners, special immigrant juveniles—there is no guarantee that such exceptions are providing sufficient protection to vulnerable communities. At Sanctuary, we are seeing that a significant number of survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking, confused by the new rule’s language and its arbitrary standards, are canceling critical public assistance benefits to which they may be legally entitled.
With support from the PIF Campaign, Sanctuary is reaching out to immigrant communities across New York City to raise awareness about the impact of the new Public Charge rule and the resources available to those who could be affected.
1. Action NYC: Call 1-800-354-0365 and say “Public Charge”
2. NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: NYC.gov/PublicCharge
3. Office of New Americans: 1-800-566-7636
4. Legal Aid Society: 1-844-955-3425
5. New York Immigration Coalition: nyic.org
6. Protecting Immigrant Families: protectingimmigrantfamilies.org
“The new Public Charge Rule is a very personal, strategic and heartless attack on immigrants, their well-being and health. At Sanctuary for Families, we serve survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, many who are exempt from the public charge rule but are extremely fearful, confused and disturbed by the anti-immigrant rhetoric which is being created.
Allies, I call on you for us to stand together as strong as ever against this rule. A rule that is creating fear in immigrant communities, causing people to disenroll from benefits they are entitled to and made to feel worthless and unwelcome. We need to stand together and fight for liberty and justice for ALL.” – Nabah Ikram, Immigration Specialist with Sanctuary for Families