Disclaimer: None of this
information constitutes legal advice. Individuals
who are concerned about whether and how receipt of public benefits might affect their immigration status should ask for
help from an immigration attorney.
Update to Public Charge and COVID-19, July 31, 2020
Update: New injunctions blocking public charge will help Oregonians access health and other benefits
The Office of Equity and Multicultural Services would like to share with
you the latest information about “Public Charge.”
“Public Charge” is a test used by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
to decide who it will let into the U.S., who can renew certain temporary
visas and who can get Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR) — also
known as a green card. Public Charge is a test for the use of public
programs and benefits. It went into effect February 24, 2020.
These times have been scary and uncertain for many Oregonians. More
so for those of us who already are fearful of seeking medical care that
may put our families at risk. Now, new injunctions will allow immigrant
communities across the U.S. to safely access critical health care and
public assistance during health crisis. This new injunction can lessen
the worry and stress and help protect our loved ones and community
members in the fight to end the spread of the Coronavirus.
If you have questions please contact: Antonio Torres, OEMS
Community Engagement Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
“Public charge” or the “public charge test” is used by immigration officials to decide if a person can:
- Enter the United States, or
- Get Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status (i.e., a green card).
Immigration officials are supposed to look at a person’s circumstances to determine if they are likely to depend on the government for aid in the future. Use of public benefits is supposed to be only one of several factors used to make this decision.
Officials can deny the applicant entry to the United States or a green card.
Public charge is considered only for people applying to:
- Enter the United States.
- Extend their visa (i.e. they are already in the United States).
- Adjust their status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (i.e. , a green card holder).
- A green card holder who leaves the United States for more than 180 consecutive days and re-enters.
- U.S. citizens — both those born in the United States and those who have naturalized.
- Immigrants with lawful permanent residency (i.e., green cards) including those applying for U.S. citizenship.
- Immigrants who are in the United States for humanitarian reasons. For example, immigrants with the following statuses are exempt from public charge:
- Asylee (including those in the process of applying).
- Temporary protected status.
- Violence Against Women Act self-petitioners, with some exceptions.
- T or U visa holders, in general.
- Special immigrant juveniles.
- Certain parolees, and several other categories of non-citizens.
- Active military service members and their families.
Non-emergency Oregon Health Plan (i.e. Medicaid) coverage for non-pregnant adults 21 and older.
Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.
Federal, state or local cash assistance programs. This includes:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Section 8 rental assistance (i.e., housing choice vouchers)
Project-based Section 8 housing and subsidized housing.
- U.S. citizens:
- Those who are born in the United States, and
- Those who have naturalized.
- Green card holders (except those who leave the U.S. for 180 consecutive days or more). This includes:
- People with green cards who are applying for U.S. citizenship, and
- Those renewing their green card.
- Active military service members and their families.
- Immigrants who are in the United States for humanitarian reasons. For example:
- Asylees (including people applying for asylum)
- People with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners
- T or U visa applicants or holders
- People with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)
- Certain parolees, and
- Other categories of noncitizens.
- Oregon Health Plan coverage for youth younger than 21 (i.e. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP)
- Oregon Health Plan coverage for people who are pregnant including 60 days after giving birth (i.e. Medicaid, Citizen-Alien Waived Emergent Medical (CAWEM) Plus, etc.)
- Oregon MothersCare (OMC) program
- Emergency Oregon Health Plan coverage for people of all ages (i.e. CAWEM)
- Oregon’s Cover All Kids program
- Early Head Start and Head Start/Oregon Pre-Kindergarten
- Employment Related Day-Care child-care reimbursement
- School-based health services for school-aged children
- Free and reduced School Lunch Program (exception: the new rule would consider this if there was a referral to this program through SNAP)
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program
- Commercial health insurance premium subsidies through Oregon’s Health Insurance Marketplace
- Oregon Food Bank programs and services
- Older Americans Act (OAA) programs
- State-funded programs to aid older adults and people with disabilities (e.g., Oregon Project Independence (OPI) program)
- Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)
- Many other health and social services programs not listed here
Things to Keep in Mind
- Public benefits your children or other family
members get don’t count against you in the Public Charge Test. Most immigrants who are applying for a green card are not eligible for the benefits listed in the rule. And benefits used by eligible family members are not counted unless the family members are also applying for a green card.
immigrant groups are not subject to “public charge.”
Certain immigrants — such as refugees, asylees, many survivors of domestic
violence, and other protected groups — are not subject to “public charge”
inadmissibility determinations and would not be affected by this final rule.
Exempt immigrants include: refugees; asylees; survivors of trafficking,
domestic violence, or other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders);
VAWA self-petitioners; special immigrant juveniles; certain people paroled into
the U.S. as well as other “humanitarian” immigrants. And lawful permanent
residents (Green Card holders) are not subject to the public charge test when
they apply for U.S. citizenship.
The rules specify that any
benefits received while in an exempt status will not be counted against
applicants, if they later seek status through a non-exempt status.
- Immigration officials must
consider all of an immigrant’s circumstances. The public
charge statute — which cannot be changed by regulations — requires immigration
officials to look at all factors that relate to noncitizens’ ability to support
themselves, including their age, health, income, assets, resources,
education/skills, family members they support and family who will support them.
They may also consider whether a sponsor has signed an affidavit of support (a
contract) promising to support the noncitizen. Since the test looks at the
person’s overall circumstances prospectively, no one factor is definitive. Any
negative factor, such as not having a job, can be overcome by positive factors,
such as having completed training for a new profession or having
college-educated children who will help support the family. Thus, use of public
benefits will not automatically make one a public charge, and the applicant can
present the best case for him/herself.