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Final Public Charge Rule Goes Into Effect

Posted by Hugo Valverde | Jan 05, 2023 | 0 Comments

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Deadlines are always important in the immigration world and one we want you all to be aware of involves the new public charge rule which went into effect December 23, 2022. 

While the rule is particularly significant for immigrants and immigration lawyers, its official start date impacts one of the most common immigration petitions submitted to USCIS, the I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, also known as a green card application. 

The final rule applies to adjustment of status applications postmarked (or electronically submitted, if applicable) on or after December 23, 2022.

Under the new rule, DHS will change the definition of someone who is a public charge from someone who is “likely at any time to become a public charge” to someone who is  “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” 

What Does this Mean for Benefits?

Under the new final rule the Department of Homeland Security WILL consider the following when determining a public charge inadmissibility determination:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI); 
  • Cash assistance for income maintenance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; 
  • State, Tribal, territorial, and local cash assistance for income maintenance; and 
  • Long-term institutionalization at government expense; 

But WILL NOT consider the following benefits:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); 
  • the Children's Health Insurance Program;
  • most Medicaid benefits (except for long-term institutionalization at government expense);
  • housing benefit, and 
  • transportation vouchers. 

DHS will also not consider disaster assistance received under the Stafford Act; pandemic assistance; benefits received via a tax credit or deduction; or Social Security, government pensions, or other earned benefits.

DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas stated that the 2019 public charge rule was not aligned with our nation's values, and the rule change is taking place so that people will not be penalized for accessing certain health benefits and other government services. 

As a reminder, some categories of noncitizens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and would not be subject to the proposed rule. 

These include: 

  • refugees, 
  • asylees, 
  • noncitizens applying for or re-registering for temporary protected status (TPS), 
  • special immigration juveniles, 
  • T and U nonimmigrants, and 
  • self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

USCIS has also put together a webpage to answer people's questions about how the new public charge rule change may impact them. Click here to visit the USCIS page on Public Charge Resources

If you have questions about whether a certain benefit may make you a ‘public charge,' please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

About the Author

Hugo Valverde

Hugo's passion for immigration law stems from his own family's immigration experience. His father and mother came to the United States from Peru fleeing political persecution, and as he grew up, Hugo spent many summers in Peru. Hugo uses his experience growing up in an immigrant family and time a...


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