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Public Charge

Public Charge


What is public charge?

The term “public charge” is used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to a person who is considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. A determination of public charge can impact the ability of certain immigrant’s to enter the U.S. or to obtain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

What and who is at risk?

On September 22nd, the Trump Administration issued a press statement announcing the release of proposal  that would change the longstanding federal immigration rule about “public charge” by expanding the types of programs which could be counted towards an individual’s public charge determination. These regulations if proposed, would jeopardize the status of millions of California’s immigrants including those who use health, housing, nutrition and other key safety net services. Under the press release, immigrants here lawfully could be passed over for permanent residency (ie. a green card) and possibly deported, if they use Medi-Cal (with limited exceptions for emergency Medi-Cal and for certain disability services related to education), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, food stamps or other benefits including long-term care or housing assistance. The Department of Homeland Security is requesting comments on whether accessing the Children’s Health Insurance Program should be included in the final rule. The rule would impact immigrants in the U.S. on a visa or those seeking to extend or change their temporary nonimmigrant status in the U.S. 

What is the current status?

Release of the official rule is imminent. To learn more about the proposed rule, visit

What can you do to fight these harmful changes?

  • Sign-on to a National Statement –The Protecting Immigrant Families campaign is circulating a statement decrying the proposed rule which will be open for additional signatures until Monday, 9/24 at 2PM PST.
  • Share your Story – If you or your family will be affected by these proposed changes you have an important story to tell! Go to
  • Spread the Word on Social Media – please use the hashtag #ProtectFamilies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Join the National Campaign – Go to: to learn about opportunities to take action.
  • Submit A Comment - Once the Notice Propose Rule Making is officially published we will have 60 days to submit written comments. Be prepared to join us in showing overwhelming public support for immigrant families. Stay tuned for a link with instructions for where and how to submit comments to DHS. Sign up here to get in touch with us on these action opportunities! 

You are also welcome to reach out to us directly -- contact Keerti Kanchinadam at or 510-832-1160. 



Click here to download this video by The Children's Partnership.

Fact Sheets

Public Charge: A New Threat to Immigrant Families (English) | (Spanish) | CLASP

Potential Effects of Public Charge Changes on Health Coverage for Citizen Children | Kaiser Family Foundation

Immigrants' Health Fact Sheet (English) | Health Consumer Alliance

Public Charge: What You Should Know (English) | Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles


Chilling Effects: The Expected Public Charge Rule and Its Impact on Legal Immigrant Families' Public Benefits Use | Migration Policy Institute












Social Media: Sample Tweets

Sample Tweets from The Children's Partnership:

  • The Trump Admin is rumored to propose changes to fed immigration laws about “public charge”. The health of millions of CA children is at risk w/ potential changes that would punish immigrant families 4 taking care of their children. Learn more
  • The fed gov’t is trying to change the rules, in doing so, punishing families 4 taking care of their children. Public Charge refers to people who primarily rely on the gov’t to support the cost of day-to-day living. Find out more in our new video
  • So far NOTHING has changed for immigrants in the U.S. but there are proposed changes that would add services to the list that could be considered when deeming someone a #PublicCharge. Find out what services this could include in @KidsPartnership’s video
  • Using benefits is never the only factor when deciding who might be a #publiccharge. It also does not apply to certain groups of immigrants. Find out who could be affected in @KidsPartnership new video
  • If the changes to #PublicCharge go through, health programs like #Medicaid, #CHIP, or Tax credits that help people get insurance through marketplaces like #CoveredCalifornia could be affected. Learn more @KidsPartnership new video
  • Although there may be changes in the future your #health your wellbeing and that of your children is important. For now, you should continue in programs you need to take care of your family. Learn more in @KidsPartnership video
  • Some of the country’s biggest advocacy organizations are taking action to oppose this proposal. Speak Up this is wrong for families and this is wrong for America! Share your story! Learn more in @KidsPartnership new #PublicCharge video
  • Let’s not punish Immigrant families for taking care of their children. Visit and make your voice heard. Let’s #RaiseUpAsOne for our family, for your family, for all families. Learn more in @KidsPartnership new #PublicCharge video

More From Our Partners Fighting Public Charge


The publications linked to above are based on federal guidance issued in 1999. The 1999 guidance remains in effect and applies to decisions made by immigration officials within the U.S. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is developing new proposed regulations that would change the public charge rules. USCIS is required to give the public an opportunity to comment on its proposed regulations and must respond to those comments before finalizing the rules. The proposed regulations will be published in the Federal RegisterSign up here to receive updates about public charge from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign.

For information on public charge decisions made by U.S. consular officials outside the U.S., see Changes to “Public Charge” Instructions in the U.S. State Department’s Manual.