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Home / FAQs / What Is a Public Charge Rule?

What Is a Public Charge Rule?

The Trump administration successfully enacted a new “Public Charge Rule” which will go into effect on October 15, 2019. This rule will effectively limit family immigration (close relatives of US citizens) for those who lack knowledge of English language, don’t have a college degree, are below US middle class income level, have no private insurance in the US, have no assets, have large families, etc.

Effectively, the biggest victims of this rule will become elderly parents of US citizens. They will be denied for not being able to speak English, for having health conditions that are typical for their age, for not being able to work due to their age or health, for not having substantial assets or other financial resources. This rule will also affect other relatives, such as spouses and siblings if they meet the same criteria to be considered public charge. THUS, IF YOU ARE A US CITIZEN WITH A FOREIGN PARENT OR OTHER RELATIVE, YOU SHOULD SERIOUSLY CONSIDER FILING FOR THEIR IMMIGRATION PRIOR TO OCTOBER 15, 2019.

The public charge rule DOES NOT apply to:

  • Refugees and asylees
  • U-Visa and T-Visa petitioners (victims of crimes)
  • VAWA self petitioners
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJS)
  • Children
  • Applicants for Citizenship
  • Some other immigrants

The Public Charge Rule applies ONLY to those who apply for an immigration status/visa, not their US citizens relatives. THUS, IF YOU HAVE US CITIZEN CHILDREN WHO RECEIVE MEDICAID AND/OR FOOD STAMPS, DO NOT CANCEL THEIR BENEFITS. They can still receive those without affecting your application.

On the other hand if you are an adult US Citizen who is sponsoring a relative, and you are currently receiving a public benefit, this is likely to be held against the relative that you are trying to sponsor. The immigration authorities will only consider benefits received after October 15, 2019. THUS, IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO SPONSOR YOUR PARENT OR SPOUSE OR SIBLING AND YOU CANNOT FILE THE APPLICATION BEFORE OCTOBER 15, 2019, IT IS ADVISABLE THAT YOU CANCEL YOUR PUBLIC BENEFITS BEFORE THAT DATE.

Most common Public Programs that might put someone at risk of being considered public charge include but are not limited to:

  • Non-emergency Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Public Housing
  • Cash Assistance programs

If you have questions about public charge related to your future immigration application, you should talk to an immigration lawyer. Attorney Khristina Siletskaya, Esq. is always happy to guide you through this process. Please call (843) 227-4695 or for assistance in Spanish (843) 986-4684.