2020 Public Charge Rules

2020 Changes
On August 14, 2019, the U.S. government published a new rule which changed the criteria used in determining whether an individual is “likely to become a public charge.”  That rule was delayed in its implementation due to challenges filed in numerous court cases, but in January 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the injunction and the changes were permitted to go into effect, effective February 24, 2020.
There are two situations where these new rules come into effect.  First, when a person seeks to extend or change his/her nonimmigrant status, such as changing from an F-1 student to an H-1B employee or when an employee’s H-1B status is extended.  The second is when a person seeks to adjust status to that of a permanent resident.  The rules for both situations are applied somewhat differently, but under both circumstances, the benefits that may affect the adjudication are:   

  • Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance/benefits for income maintenance   
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/“Food Stamps”) 
  • Section 8 Housing/Rental Assistance
  • Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq. 

Federally funded Medicaid, except when used for a medical emergency, for a minor child, or for pregnancy-related treatment.
Advice to Nonimmigrant Visa Holders in the U.S.
Note that the Office of International Services is unable to provide you with legal advice.  Following are some general rules that we suggest you follow during your stay in the United States:

  1. Prior to accepting any type of public assistance, you are encouraged to speak with an immigration attorney to ascertain whether that type of assistance will likely be weighed against any future application for immigration benefits;
  2. If you have previously accepted any public assistance, be sure to list them on any future immigration application where asked. Do not ever omit pertinent information on any form, but also do not give information that is not directly requested. 
  3. When reporting information, be very clear about how long the assistance lasted, and carefully list the beneficiary.  (i.e., If you received Medicaid for your minor children, but you could not use it for your own health needs, list only your childrens’ names as beneficiaries on the immigration application.

For more information, please review our 2020 Public Charge Changes Handout.