Legal Aid

"Public Charge" Law Update

The new Public Charge law went into effect on February 24, 2020.  Here are some points that help clarify who will and who won’t be impacted. 

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  • The public charge law is a test to determine if someone applying for permanent residence (a green card) to enter the United States through a relative is likely to depend on public benefits in the future.

  • It ONLY applies to people applying for permanent residence (a green card) through a relative living in the United States.

  • The public charge law does NOT change eligibility for health and public benefits programs.  If you already have a green card, and you qualify for public benefits, you are still eligible.

  • Many immigrants do NOT have to worry about the public charge law. This includes refugees and asylees, people with a U or T visa, and those with VAWA  (Violence Against Women Act) or SIJ (Special Immigrant Juvenile) status.

  • If you have a green card the public charge law will NOT affect you unless you are trying to bring a relative into the United States.

  • The public charge law does NOT affect your ability to become a citizen!  There is no public charge test to become a citizen and if you or your family are on benefits this will not hurt your ability to become a citizen.

  • The public charge test will NOT affect your ability to keep your legal permanent residency (green card) and does not hurt in any way your ability to renew your green card.

  • You CANNOT be deported for using public benefits.  Again the new law only applies to persons APPLYING for a green card or entry into the United States.

  • The new public charge law will NOT affect your ability to get emergency room treatment; help with your pregnancy; or help from a domestic violence shelter, food pantry or church. 
     

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©2020 by Immigration Advocacy and Support Center (IASC)