Public Charge

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) do NOT consider health, food, and housing services as part of the public charge determination. This means many government funded benefits and services are safe to use.

MANY IMMIGRANTS SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT PUBLIC CHARGE. Most immigrants are NOT subject to public charge! The rule is mainly applied to people seeking admission (Visa) into the United States or applying to adjust their status (to get a Green Card) through a family-based petition. Public charge does NOT apply to:

  • Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with green cards when they apply for U.S. citizenship or renew their green cards.
  • Refugees, Asylees, Temporary Protected Status applicants, DACA applicants or recipients seeking renewal, Special Immigrant Juveniles, asylum applicants, and certain victims of crime, including domestic violence and human trafficking.

WHAT IS THE PUBLIC CHARGE RULE TODAY? Public charge is defined as a non-citizen who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support, by receiving either: cash assistance for income maintenance (like CalWORKs, SSI, and General Relief/Assistance), being institutionalized for long-term care at government expense.


  • The public charge rule does NOT apply to every immigrant.
  • Getting government funded benefits alone does NOT make you a public charge.
  • Government funded benefits received by your children and family members do NOT make you a public charge.
  • Most people with green cards are NOT subject to the public charge rule.

ON DECEMBER 23, 2022, A NEW RULE, PUBLIC CHARGE OF INADMISSABILITY WILL GO INTO EFFECT. Most immigrants are not subject to public charge; however, Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, Afghan SI/SQ Parolees, and Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees are not currently explicitly exempted. The new rule details change in how DHS will interpret public charge, clarifies DHS policy regarding those to whom the public charge rule applies, and explicitly exempts those granted refugee benefits by Congress.

What does this mean?

  • The following populations will be explicitly exempted from public charge:
    • Afghan humanitarian parolees delineated within the Afghanistan Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022
    • Ukrainian/non-Ukrainian humanitarian parolees delineated within the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022
    • Noncitizen victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons
  • When making public charge determinations, DHS will NOT consider any public benefits that were received by noncitizens who are eligible for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees.
  • Noncitizens will be able to access health-related benefits and other supplemental government services to which they are entitled by law, without triggering harmful immigration consequences.
  • Accessing benefits, even those included in a public charge determination, will NOT affect the ability of individuals within the exempted groups to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (LPR) or their eligibility for other immigration benefits. DHS strongly encourages these populations to access any and all services and benefits available to them without fear of a future negative impact.

Additional information and detailed summaries of the new rule are provided in press releases from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) news service and Health and Human Services (HHS).

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