What You Need to Know About the Use of Your Health Care Benefits

The Public Charge Final Rule is not in effect. Multiple federal courts issued injunctions temporarily blocking this rule.
If you believe you may be impacted by these changes, please consult an immigration attorney immediately.


What is the Public Charge Rule? 

Public charge is a basis that the government may use to deny an application for permanent residence (green card) or certain other visas when the applicant is determined to likely depend on certain government programs.

How has the Public Charge Rule changed? 
The new rule modifies the factors used to review certain applications. If and when the rule goes into effect, the government may look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of additional public programs, including:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, EBT or Food Stamps)
  • Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
  • Medi-Cal (except for emergency Medi-Cal, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers up to 60 days after they give birth)
  • Cash assistance programs (like SSI, TANF, General Assistance)

Certain other services are not factors for consideration under the new rule, including WIC, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), school lunches, food banks, shelters, and many more. Please continue to use the services to which you are entitled. 

When will the new Public Charge changes be in effect?
This rule is not in effect.  Multiple federal courts have issued injunctions that temporarily blocked the rule from going into effect. Please continue to use the services you are entitled to. You still have time to consult an immigration attorney to determine if you are affected by this new rule.

Who will be impacted by the changes to the Public Charge Rule?
The new rule generally applies to those seeking Lawful Permanent Resident status or a visa for the first time, and Lawful Permanent Residents who left the U.S. for six months or more. Please consult an immigration attorney to determine if you are affected.

Who is NOT affected by Public Charge?
The policy does NOT generally apply to those seeking citizenship or renewing a green card. It may also exclude the following groups:

  • People who are undocumented and not eligible for a green card
  • Refugees or asylees
  • “U” Visa or “T” Visa applicants/holders (survivors of domestic violence, trafficking and victims/witnesses of serious crimes) 
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles
  • DACA renewals
  • Green card renewals 
  • Temporary Protected Status applicants 

Please consult an immigration attorney to determine if the public charge changes apply to you.

Should I continue using my healthcare benefits such as Medi-Cal? 
Patients should continue to seek the care they need when they need it. 
If and when the new rule goes into effect, the changes are NOT retroactive—this means that benefits used now will not be held against you later when the public charge rule changes. All existing rules continue to apply until the new rule goes into effect.
Every family is different. It is possible the programs that help your family may not be part of the new rule. We know that you are worried and we want you to know there are lots of people and organizations that can help you. An immigration attorney familiar with this issue can give you advice based on your specific situation. Local non-profits may also be able to provide help and legal advice.  

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