QUESTION

What is the public charge rule and how will it impact me?

Individuals with no coverage | Navigating Health Insurance Marketplace Options
ANSWER

In August 2019, the Trump Administration finalized new rules that expand the criteria for determining whether certain immigrants would be considered a “public charge” upon approval of permanent residency. While appeals of these new expanded rules make their way through the courts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the policy may take effect beginning February 24, 2020.

What’s a “public charge”?

This information is updated as of March 2021.

A public charge is a determination made by the Department of Homeland Security that an immigrant applying for permanent resident status (green card) or admission to the U.S. would become primarily dependent on government assistance upon approval, or, in other words, become a “public charge.” The Trump administration previously expanded the definition of a “public charge” to include certain health coverage programs, but that rule is no longer in effect.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice. If you have questions about public charge determinations or public benefit programs, please see a qualified immigration lawyer, or visit https://protectingimmigrantfam... for more information. If you need immigration assistance, please call the Office for New Americans at 1-800-566-7636 to be connected to free or low-cost, high-quality legal representation/counseling services.

The U.S. State Department applies different rules if you have your interview outside of the U.S. If this is the case for you, please talk to a qualified immigration lawyer, or visit https://www.protectingimmigran... for more information.

Does enrollment in the Marketplace with premium tax credits count for a public charge determination?

No. Marketplace coverage, including coverage with marketplace premium and cost-sharing subsidies, was not considered a negative factor in public charge determinations under the Trump administration’s prior rule and will continue to have no effect on permanent residency applications under current policies.

Does enrollment in Medicaid or CHIP count for a public charge determination?

Under current policies, enrollment in Medicaid is ONLY a factor if it is used to pay for institutional long-term care. Medicaid enrollment (except for institutional long-term care) will not impact public charge determinations under current policies. CHIP was not considered a negative factor in public charge determinations under the Trump administration’s prior rule and will continue to have no effect on permanent residency applications under current policies.

Currently, public charge determinations still apply to certain non-health-related public assistance programs, as well as institutional long-term care at government expense. Many immigrants are exempt from a public charge determination. Please see a qualified immigration lawyer or use the Keep Your Benefits Guide (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese) to check if you may be subject to a public charge determination and what public programs are considered. The Guide is free and does not ask for any personal information.

Other helpful resources:

Protect Immigrant Families: Specialized Resources for Advocates and Service

Providers Protect Immigrant Families: Know Your Rights (Disponsible en español)

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