As of March 9, 2021, the only benefits considered in a public charge determination are ‘cash assistance for income maintenance’ and ‘institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.’ Food and nutrition programs, housing programs, and Medicaid for everything except long-term are not considered. This is from 1999 guidance. The Biden Administration is currently exploring alternatives to the existing public charge rule. CKF is monitoring this process, submitting comments, and will update this page and other resources as new information is available.
In 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final public charge rule. The final rule expanded which public benefit programs were considered in a public charge determination and the factors considered in the “totality of circumstances test” used during an application. This caused a large ‘chilling effect’ when many eligible immigrants decided not to enroll in benefits or disenrolled from benefits. In March 2021, the Biden Administration stopped defending the 2019 rule from the Trump administration in existing court cases and an injunction, preventing the implementation of the rule. DHS then announced a return to guidance from 1999 in public charge determinations, which is in effect now.
The following resources are designed to aid assisters when working with clients. Information included is not intended to provide legal advice.
- CKF Public Charge Timeline
- CKF job aid: Key Points for Assisters to Help Clients Understand Public Charge
- Public Charge and COVID-19:
- CKF job aid: Job Aid – Key Points for Assisters to Help Clients Understand COVID-19 and Public Charge
- CKF handout for clients: COVID-19 and Public Charge for Clients
- Center for Health Progress resources
- Free or low-cost immigration attorneys in Colorado resource