Public Charge FAQ: Public Benefits, Immigration, and Your Family

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1.) WHAT IS PUBLIC CHARGE ?

Public Charge is the term used by immigration officials, historically referring to people who primarily rely on government cash assistance, to support themselves. Being a “public charge” can impact a person’s eligibility for a green card or visa.

2 .) WHY IS IT IN THE NEWS?

The federal government is proposing a change to the definition of public charge that would create immigration consequences for some individuals who access SNAP, OHP, and other services. This change could affect many families seeking residency, but it is still just a proposal and there is still time to act.

3.) HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY FAMI LY?

Public charge does not apply to everybody. Do not drop out of services your family needs due to fear. Instead, learn how the rule could apply to you and get the facts you need to make the right decision for you and your loved ones.

4.) HOW DOES PUBLIC CHARGE APPLY TODAY?

Right now, and unless the proposal becomes a rule, only the use of TANF, SSI, or long term care in an institution paid for by the government may be considered in a public charge determination. Different rules apply if you are seeking admission at a consulate outside the US. Consult your attorney to learn more.

Many people, including refugees, asylees, t or u visa holders, and green card holders applying for citizenship are exempt from public charge, meaning that regardless of the rule change they generally cannot be considered a public charge. Get advice from an attorney to determine whether you are exempt.

5.) WHERE CAN I FIND ADVICE?

Consult with an immigration attorney to learn how the proposal could affect your applications now or in the future. Find one at oregonimmigrationresource.org.

Call Oregon’s Public Benefits Hotline with general questions about benefits and enrollment. Call (800) 520-5292

6.) HOW TO STAY INFORMED AND TAKE ACTION: 

Stay informed and speak up about real changes. If the rules do change, you will have time to act before the new criteria go into effect. Follow Oregon Immigration Resource and protectingimmigrantfamilies.org for the latest news and to make your voice heard.