Public Charge Rule FAQ


What does the new Public Charge rule say?

The new rule sets a stricter test for people to show they will not depend on public benefits in the future. An immigration officer will consider different factors including family income, use of certain public benefits, and how likely the applicant is to be employed when approving legal permanent residency.


Who does Public Charge affect?

  • It only applies to those seeking and/or applying for legal permanent residency (green card) in the United States
  • No other types of immigration cases are impacted


When is Public Charge going into effect?

The new Public Charge rule will go into effect as of February 24th, 2020.


Who is not affected by Public Charge?

The following groups can still access healthcare benefits, even after February 24th, 2020:

  • Undocumented Children ages 21 and under
  • Refugees or Yes asylum seekers
  • Active U.S. military members
  • People with a U Visa, T Visa, VAWA, or SIJS
  • DACA and TPS applicants
  • The majority of permanent residents
  • S Citizens
  • Medicare Part D low-income subsidy
  • Anyone seeking emergency medical assistance
  • Women who are pregnant and on Medi-Cal or who need public assistance during the pregnancy and for 60 days after the birth of the baby
  • Anyone that has sought and/or applied for legal permanent residency prior to the proposed date
  • Anyone that doesn’t plan on seeking and/or applying for legal permanent residency
  • WIC is not part of the Public Charge test


What public benefit programs are included in the final rule?

  • Medi-Cal (exemptions listed above)
  • CalFresh (food stamps, EBT)
  • Section 8 vouchers & project-based assistance public housing
  • Cash assistance programs such as: CAPI, SSI, General Assistance and TANF (CalWORKS)
    • Cash assistance programs are the only state or local benefits that are considered


The following Medi-Cal benefits are not included in Public Charge:

  • Emergency Medi-Cal Health benefits received by a person ages 21 and under
  • Health benefits received by a woman during pregnancy and for 60 days after
  • Benefits received by active duty or Ready Reserve members of the armed forces and their spouses and minor children
  • Benefits received while a person was exempt from public charge


What is NCHS doing?

  • NCHS is actively addressing the situation and is committed to providing consistent and correct information and resources to our staff and patients to prevent stigmas and/or inaccuracies
  • NCHS is here to serve patients no matter what
  • NCHS is not providing legal advice!


Why is Public Charge important?

One of the biggest risks is the mis-information that will undoubtedly develop and spread. This means that individuals who are not likely to be implicated by public charge rule may very well associate themselves and may opt out of Medi-Cal coverage for themselves and/or their families, ultimately avoiding access to care and services that they need.


What are the key takeaways?

  • This ruling does not affect anyone who is currently a legal permeant resident (green card holder) with the exception of the five year bar. This means that individuals that have not been in the U.S. more than five years may be subject to the Public Charge test
  • It only affects those seeking legal permanent status after the proposed date
    • Note: In general, lawful permanent residents who currently possess a “Green Card” cannot be denied U.S. citizenship for lawfully receiving any public benefits for which they are eligible (
  • Benefits used prior to the set date will not be considered as Public Charge


Resources for Patients:


Public Charge Questions or Comments