What is “Public Charge”?
1. “Public charge” is the term used by immigration officials to refer to people who primarily rely on government cash assistance, like TANF, to support themselves. Being a “public charge” can impact a person’s eligibility for a green card or a visa.
2. The federal government takes into consideration a range of factors (like age, health, and financial status) when determining who is a public charge. The current list of benefits that may result in a public charge determination are: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ● Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) ● Long-term care in an institution paid for by the government.
3. Most public benefits (like health care, food assistance, WIC, housing assistance, and many more) DO NOT count today towards public charge.
4. The public charge rule does NOT apply to many types of immigrants. Immigrants NOT subject to public charge rules: Refugees and asylees ● Green Card holders applying for U.S. citizenship ● Certain people paroled into the US ● Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self petitioners ● Cuban, Nicaraguan, or Haitian entrants ● T or U visa holders (Survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other crimes) ● Amerasian immigrants ● Special immigrant juveniles ● Registry applicants (in U.S. before 1972) ● Individuals applying to renew DACA status.
5. Your dependents who are U.S. citizens and are receiving benefits still do not count against you for Public Charge determination.
Immigration attorneys, legal service providers, and community partners are available to answer your questions and help you make the best decision for your family. Contact an immigration attorney with questions about immigration options and public benefits.
Find legal help at:
New Mexico Legal Aid: 833-545-4357
New Mexico Immigrant Law Center: 505-247-1023