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Latest Information on ‘Public Charge’

Overview

Latest information on Public Charge’:

All ‘public charge’ rule changes made by the Trump Administration have been permanently eliminated

General Background

On February 2, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14012, directing the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to take various actions necessary to “encourage full participation by immigrants, including refugees, in our civic life; [ensure] that immigration processes and other benefits are delivered effectively and efficiently; and [ensure] that the Federal Government eliminates sources of fear and other barriers that prevent immigrants from accessing government services available to them.”

Legal Background

In response to the Executive Order, on March 9, 2021, the Secretary of Homeland Security issued a statement indicating that he “determined that continuing to defend the final rule, Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, 84 Fed. Reg. 41,292 (Aug. 14, 2019)” (the Public Charge Rule) was “neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.”  That same day, the Department of Justice informed the U.S. Supreme Court that it would no longer seek to defend the Public Charge Rule in court.  This decision meant that several lower court decisions finding the rule unlawful became final, thereby permanently blocking the Public Charge Rule nationwide.  Thereafter, on March 15, 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule removing the Public Charge Rule from its regulations in light of the court decisions invalidating it.

What does this mean?

  • The Public Charge Rule change by the Trump Administration that had been in effect since February 24, 2020, has been eliminated.
  • This means that the original rules about the inadmissibility of non-citizens on public charge grounds (the rules that were in effect for years prior to the Trump Administration are once again the only rules that apply. 

What benefits can still be considered for public charge purposes now?

  • Under the original Public Charge Rule that is now in effect once again, the only forms of public assistance available in Connecticut that can be considered by federal immigration authorities are:
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI, a benefit provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration);
    • Temporary Family Assistance (TFA, a benefit provided by the Connecticut Department of Social Services (CT DSS));
    • State-Administered General Assistance (SAGA, a benefit provided by CT DSS); and/or
    • Medicaid that pays for long-term care, such as nursing-home care (a benefit provided by CT DSS).
  • The following benefits are not considered for public charge purposes:
    • Other forms of Medicaid (called HUSKY Health in Connecticut), including Medicaid provided for an emergency condition;
    • Children’s Health Insurance Program benefits (CHIP), also part of HUSKY Health in Connecticut;
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits;
    • Public housing benefits, such as Section 8 housing vouchers;
    • Subsidized health insurance obtained through Access Health CT;
    • Medical treatment or preventative services related to COVID-19, including vaccinations;
    • Energy assistance;
    • School lunch and breakfast programs;
    • WIC;
    • Child care subsidies;
    • School-based health services; and
    • Head Start and public education.

It is important to understand that even if you receive benefits from one of the programs considered for public charge purposes, you will not necessarily be considered a public charge.  Under the original Public Charge Rule now in effect, immigration officials must look at many other factors to determine whether you are likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” if you are admitted to the U.S.

Who is subject to the Public Charge Rule now?

  • The original public charge rule only applies if you are seeking to become a Lawful Permanent Resident—i.e., to obtain a green card, or are otherwise trying to legally enter the United States from abroad. 
  • Many groups of non-citizens admitted to the United States for humanitarian reasons, such as refugees, asylees, U- and T-visa holders, self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) petitioners, Cuban or Haitian entrants, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, and others are exempt from the public charge rule.
  • Unlike the previous Public Charge Rule implemented by the Trump Administration (and now eliminated), the original Public Charge Rule put back into place by the Biden Administration does not apply if you are trying to extend a current visa or change visa types, such as from a student visa to an employment visa.
  • The public charge rule is not used if you are applying for citizenship (naturalization)
  • The public charge rule is not used if you are already a Lawful Permanent Resident and are simply renewing your green card.

Further information may be found at www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/cib072221.pdf

[Updated 7-29-21]