Public Charge


Resources for health centers and their patients

08/12/2020 Public Charge Rule CAN be applied in Oregon amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • Today, a judge narrowed the U.S. District Court injunction you heard about in late July. For now, the public charge regulations CAN be applied in Oregon even during the pandemic.

07/31/2020 Public Charge Rule blocked amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • A judge issued new injunctions this week blocking the public charge immigration rule during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow immigrant communities across Oregon and the rest of the country to access critical health care and public benefits during the current health crisis. More here

03/14/2020 Immigration and COVID-19

01/27/2020 U.S. Supreme Court allows Public Charge Rule to go Forward

  • Today, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the preliminary injunction from New York that prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule from taking effect nationwide. This was the last of the three district court nationwide injunctions standing, which means that the DHS rule can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. 

    This means that the public charge rule will be allowed to go into effect while the litigation continues.  The changes contained in DHS’ final rule can now be implemented by USCIS officers - and we may see immediate decisions on individual adjustment cases. The Department of Homeland Security has not yet announced a timeline for implementation.

01/08/2020 Public Charge Update

  • The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump Administration’s motion to stay (or temporarily lift) the New York District Court’s injunction of the public charge regulation while the appeal advances. In other words, a nationwide preliminary injunction is still in place, and DHS’s public charge rule is still blocked from taking effect. Read more here


  • Public Charge: New website helps patients determine the impact of the public charge rule based on their specific circumstances. Given the complexities of immigration law and the public charge rule, it can be difficult to determine the impact of the public charge rule on specific individuals. A new website addresses this need by allowing individuals to provide information anonymously on their immigration status, use of public benefits, and future plans. Based on this information, the site indicates if and how the public charge rule would impact them, or if they should seek legal help. While the site was designed for California residents, it is applicable across the country and also available in Spanish.


Court Blocks DHS’s New Public Charge Rule from going into effect.  Read more here.

Overview: What is public charge, and what is the final rule?

  • The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assesses individuals seeking admission to the US or applying for a green card to determine if they would be a “public charge.” In the final rule, a public charge is defined as an individual “who receives one or more public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two public benefits in one month counts as two months).”
  • The public charge test only applies to individuals applying to enter the US, applying to become a lawful permanent resident (green card), or to green card holders who leave the US for over 6 months consecutively and seek to return to the US.
    • The public charge test does not apply to refugees, asylees, survivors of trafficking, self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act, and special immigrant juveniles.
  • Individuals who are considered a public charge may be denied entry to the US or denied a green card.
  • The final rule expands benefits considered under public charge determination, including: non-emergency Medicaid, “SNAP” (also known as “food stamps”), and Section 8 housing assistance. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and TANF (sometimes referred to as “welfare”) are already considered in public charge determination and will continue to be considered under the proposed changes.
  • Please note that CHIP, use of health center services (including sliding fee scale), and participation in WIC are not factors in a public charge determination.
  • However, a person does not have to have used benefits to be deemed likely to become a public charge. Individuals also come under a “totality of circumstances test” whereas the following factors may be weighed against an applicant:
    • Age (less than 18 or over 61, weighted negatively)
    • Health (diagnosed medical conditions affecting ability to work/study, or those that require institutionalization now or in the future, weighted negatively)
    • Family (household size)
    • Financial resources (income less than 125% FPL weighted negatively)
    • Skills and work experience (including English proficiency, education level, and caretaker status)
  • There are some exceptions to the public charge determination test:
    • Medicaid services received for an emergency medical condition
    • Health benefits received by a person under 21 years of age
    • Health benefits received by a person during pregnancy and for 60 days following birth
    • Benefits received by active duty and reserve members of the armed forces, their spouses, and children under 21
    • Benefits received while a person was exempt from public charge (i.e. DACA recipients, TPS holders, etc.)

None of this information constitutes legal advice. This is preliminary information and may be updated as additional information becomes available. Please contact OPCA's Policy Team with questions.

Find an immigration attorney at Oregon Immigration Legal Assistance

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