“Public Charge” is a legal term used in immigration law. It is part of a screening process used by U.S. immigration officials primarily when someone is applying for lawful permanent residence (LPR/“green card” status). If someone is considered a public charge, then they won’t be able to get a green card, unless they are able to post a public charge bond.
Yes. The Biden Administration’s new public charge rule took effect on December 23, 2022. This is thanks to the Biden Administration’s policy changes and to litigation against the Trump Administration’s public charge rules, including our cases, MRNY v. Cuccinelli (against the DHS public charge rule) and MRNY v. Pompeo (against the Department of State public charge rule, and related policies). The new Biden Administration rule largely tracks the 1999 Federal Guidance, which other than the brief time the Trump rule was in effect, has governed public charge determinations for more than two decades.
The answer to this question remains the same. The public charge rule applies to the following groups:
Note: Anyone planning to apply for a green card; who is trying to change/extend their nonimmigrant visa; or who already has a green card and is planning to travel abroad for more than 180 days in a row or has certain criminal convictions, should learn about public charge unless exempt (see below).
The answer to this question has not changed. People in the categories listed below DO NOT need to worry about being denied a green card because of public charge.
People who are not applying for a green card:
People who may be applying for a green card, but are exempt from public charge:
Under the current rules only receipt of the following benefits are treated negatively:
a. Cash assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
b. Government funded long-term institutional care;
No. No medical care available in New York related to COVID-19 and any other condition counts against a person subject to public charge. Based on prior experience, however, we expect that many noncitizens will be concerned about the public charge consequences of receiving treatment even if they are not actually subject to public charge review.
For assistance, call our Immigration Helpline at 844-955-3425 from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 23 December 2022
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