Legal Aid Society


Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs: Phone Bank

After a Federal Court granted a preliminary injunction halting President Donald Trump’s proposed changes to “Public Charge,” – which would have gone into effect today – The Legal Aid Society urged immigrant New Yorkers and others throughout the country in need of vital public assistance to continue using programs that they qualify for.

In addition to our Immigration Helpline, tonight (Tuesday, October, 15th) from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. ET, Legal Aid attorneys will participate in a phone bank hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Catholic Charites, and Univision for anyone who is concerned about public benefits and immigration. Call to access free, safe legal help and find answers to questions.

Tuesday, October 15

5 p.m. – 8 p.m.


What New York families need to know about public charge:

  • Because of the Court’s decision, DHS must continue to use the current public charge rule, which has been in effect for over 20 years. Under the current public charge rule, people applying for a green card through a family-member are at risk of public charge if they receive (a) cash assistance/welfare or (b) government-funded long-term institutional care. To pass the public charge test, they should also have a financial sponsor who makes over 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

  • Remember that public charge applies only to certain people, not all immigrants.  Public charge only applies only to the following groups: (1) people in the U.S. who are in the process of applying for green card status through a family member (often a parent, child or spouse); (2) people who are sponsored by a small business owned by their family members; (3) people who already have a green card but who: (a) have traveled abroad for more than 180 days or (b) have traveled abroad and have a criminal conviction, and are seeking to re-enter the U.S.  Public charge does not apply to people who are seeking to naturalize/become citizens, to green card holders (other than the narrow categories above (3)(a)-(b), and it does not apply to many exempt categories, including Asyees, Refugees, VAWA, U, and T Visa applicants and holders; Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ), and others.

  • How long will the current rules continue to remain in effect? The new Rule will continue to be blocked by the courts until there is a final decision on plaintiffs’ lawsuits.  It is hard to predict how long this will be, but the cases are unlikely to be over before next year. There is also the possibility that the government will appeal the decisions blocking the Rule. This could happen more quickly, but people will have advance notice. Check The Legal Aid Society’s site for updates.

  • If the new Rule gets unblocked or goes into effect when the cases are over, will benefits that I receive now – other than cash assistance and government-funded long-term institutional care — count against me? No. Other benefits, specifically SNAP/food stamps, Section 8, public housing, and federal Medicaid, may count AFTER the new Rule goes into effect, but NOT before. Receipt of cash assistance and government-funded long-term institutional care will continue to count against people who are in the process of seeking a green card through a family member under the current rules.