Public Charge and The Covid-19 Emergency
*Update – As of July 29, 2020, the new Public Charge rule is BLOCKED in the entire US. Check
OregonLawHelp.org and protectimmigrantfamilies.org for the most up to date information on Public Charge. *
Medical Care and Public Charge:
The Oregon Health Plan, including Cover all Kids and CAWEM-Plus Pregnancy coverage fully cover COVID-19 testing and treatment. Emergency Medicaid in Oregon (CAWEM, for low income, non-pregnant adults who can’t get OHP) fully covers COVID-19 testing in the emergency room, and covers COVID-19 treatment. Testing or treatment paid for by any of these programs will not count in a Public Charge test. *Update: while the new rule is blocked, regular Medicaid (non-emergency OHP for adults who are not pregnant) doesn’t count as a public charge benefit.*
Unemployment Insurance, Economic Stimulus Payments, Emergency
Assistance Programs and Public Charge:
- Unemployment insurance is not considered a public benefit and is never a factor in a Public Charge test.
- The Corona Virus stimulus payments of $1200 do not count in a Public Charge test.
- Short-term emergency assistance does not count in a Public Charge test. Emergency assistance funds for COVID-19 such as Oregon’s Worker Relief Fund (for those who can’t receive other forms of assistance), Portland’s Emergency Household Stabilization Fund, Oregon Rental Relief, and Emergency Utility Assistance programs do not count in a Public Charge test.
Food Resources and Public Charge
School lunch/summer meals and food boxes from food banks or community programs do not count in a Public Charge test. WIC food benefits for those pregnant or breastfeeding and for children up to age 5 and Pandemic EBT for families with children getting free school lunch do not count in a Public Charge test. *Update: while the new rule is blocked, SNAP benefits do not count in a Public Charge test.*
Other Resources on Public Charge:
For more information, see the Public Charge Fact Sheet here in English, here in Spanish, and here in other languages. For information on many types of public benefits that immigrants can get, see the Immigrants and Public Benefits guide here, and the Safety Net Resources guide here.
Remember, knowledge is power! Make a plan, join an organization that can support you, and be prepared. The following information will help prepare you to defend your rights:
We will overcome fear by embracing our community values: unity, family, and courage!
- People directly involved, report it ASAP. Call or text the ACLU of Oregon immigration hotline. (971) 412-ACLU or call the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition’s hotline: 1-888-622-1510. You should only use this hotline when you personally witness an action or have information from a first-hand account of an action (i.e., you’re calling on behalf of someone who was a first-hand witness). ACLU and PIRC will work with community partners to both confirm rumors and disseminate accurate information.
- Find additional resources at:
- Door hanger (English) [PDF]
- Folleto para la puerta (Spanish) [PDF]
- Folleto para participantes / Handout for Participants (español, .pdf)
- Conozca sus derechos / Know Your Rights booklet by CASA Maryland (español, .pdf)
- Information and Emergency Plan Packet / Paquete de información y plan de emergencia (English & español, .doc)
- You can find more information at AFSC website; https://www.afsc.org/key-issues/issue/defending-immigrant-rights
- For Know Your Rights Cards print them at: https://www.ilrc.org/red-cards
Know Your Rights
In these uncertain times, it’s important that you know your rights. Below are our latest resources:
Know Your Rights: A Guide to Your Rights When Interacting with Law Enforcement
- Video series: We Have Rights: What to Do when Interacting with ICE – English, Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, Hatian Creole, Russian
- Everyone Has Certain Basic Rights, No Matter Who is President – Info sheet in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Korean
- “Conozca sus Derechos” Oregon-specific Know Your Rights video in Spanish
- Know Your Rights videos for speakers of Maya Mam and Maya Ixil
- Know Your Rights Cards in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Arabic, & Korean
- Know Your Rights Cards In Arabic, Farsi, Somali, & Spanish
- Eye-catching Know Your Rights flyers in English, Spanish, Polish, Korean, Tagalog, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Hindi, and Hatian Creole
- Know Your Rights resources from the ACLU
- Know Your Rights handouts in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Haitian Creole, and Punjabi
- Graphic: What to Do if ICE shows up at your Workplace
- Graphic: Know the Difference: I-9 Audits vs. ICE Raids
- Help for Immigrant Families: Guidance for Schools
- Immigration Resources for Teachers and Educators
- Frequently Asked Questions for School Officials
- A Guide for Employers: What to do if Immigration Comes to your Workplace
- Video: Tips and Tools for Employers: I-9 Audits, Raids, and Social Security No-Match Letters [Presented 5/30/2019 in Beaverton, Oregon]
- View Accompanying Powerpoint
- Recommendations for Employers – prepare for ICE action
- Recommended Employer Instructions to Employees – what to do in case of ICE action
- Social Security No-Match Letter Toolkit – A guide from NILC to “Employer Correction Request” letters from the Social Security Administration
For Health Care Providers:
- Health Care Providers and Immigration Enforcement: Know Your Rights, Know Your Patients’ Rights
- FAQ: Services to Immigrant Patients
Find more resources for individuals, social service providers, and educators at: www.informedimmigrant.com
What to do?
Nonprofit immigration legal services
Visit the National Immigration Legal Services Directory. You can find nonprofit organizations in your state that provide free or low-cost immigration legal services.
Immigration Lawyer Search
In addition the above resource of free or low-cost immigration legal services, you may also choose to work with a private immigration lawyer. To search for a lawyer in your area, please visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Lawyer Search.
Representation in Immigration Court
Some Oregon residents may be eligible for free representation at Portland Immigration Court through Equity Corps of Oregon. Learn more and seek assistance here.
Other legal services
Visit Oregon Law Help’s directory of nonprofit legal services or contact the Oregon State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service to find assistance in your area with other legal issues including housing, custody, divorce, employment, victim’s rights, and more.
PUBLIC CHARGE AND the COVID-19 Emergency
Medical Care and Public Charge:
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the federal Department of Homeland Security and USCIS clearly stated that testing, treatment, and preventive care related to COVID 19 will not be considered as part of the public charge determination, no matter how that that testing or treatment is paid for.
The Oregon Health Plan, including Cover all Kids and CAWEM-Plus Pregnancy coverage fully cover COVID-19 testing and treatment. Emergency Medicaid in Oregon (CAWEM, available to low income, non pregnant adults in Oregon who don’t qualify for OHP for immigration reasons) fully covers COVID-19 testing in the emergency room, and then covers COVID-19 treatment. Treatment paid for by any of these programs will not count in a public charge test.
Unemployment Insurance, Economic Stimulus Payments, and Public Charge:
Unemployment insurance is not considered a public benefit and is never factored in to a Public Charge test.
The new Corona Virus stimulus payments do not count in a Public Charge test. The Stimulus payment is considered a tax credit, and tax credits never count in a Public Charge test.
Other Resources on Public Charge:
Remember that many immigrants are exempt from the Public Charge test, many benefits don’t count in a Public Charge test, and benefits received by an immigrants children don’t count against the parent in his or her public charge test inside the US. For more information see the Public Charge Fact Sheet from Causa, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, and Oregon Law Center here in English, here in Spanish, and here in other languages.
Call the Oregon Law Center/Legal Aid Services of Oregon Public Benefits Hotline for questions about public benefits and public charge. 1-800-520-5292.
On January 27th, 2020, the US Supreme Court said that the federal government’s new Public Charge rule is no longer “blocked”, and can go into effect while the lawsuits challenging the new rule work their way through the courts. The new Public Charge rule is in effect starting on February 24, 2020, everywhere in the US. The rule will not be retroactive, so no one will be held to the new rule until after February 24th.
Especially now that the new Public Charge rule is in effect, it is important to fight fear with facts and remember that:
- Many immigrants are exempt from the Public Charge rule – check the Public Charge Fact Sheet to see if the Public Charge rule does not apply to you; https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge
- Many benefits do not count in the Public Charge test – check the Public Charge Fact Sheet to see all the benefits that do not count in a Public Charge test; https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge
- Benefits an immigrant’s children/family members get do not count against the immigrant in his or her Public Charge test inside the US;
- Getting public benefits alone does not make you a public charge. Some public benefits may be critically important for the health and safety of your family. Read the Fact Sheet at https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge or get legal advice so that you can make the right decision for your family.
Call the Legal Aid/Oregon Law Center Public Benefits Telephone Hotline at 1-800-520-5292 for legal advice about public benefits and public charge,
or Go to Oregonimmigrationresource.org to find an immigration attorney,
Oregon Fact Sheet on Public Charge:
- Simplified Chinese
- Traditional Chinese
- Somali (More languages coming soon)
Public Charge Webinar/Slides
- View webinar 1 in English
- Download pt.1 slides in English
- View webinar 1 in Spanish
- Download pt.1 slides in Spanish
- How to Talk about Public Charge with Immigrant Families
- Visit Protecting Immigrant Families to get national updates about the public charge rule.
- Should I Keep My Children Enrolled in Health and Nutrition Programs
State of Oregon Resources:
Know the Facts about Public Charge
Know the Facts about Public Charge
(This fact sheet is not a substitute for legal advice.) Updated 8-5-2020
There is a new federal rule that changes how people are found to be a “Public Charge.” It lets the federal immigration agency look at a longer list of public benefits, and more things like family income, when deciding whether a person is likely to become a Public Charge in the future.
*Update: As of July 29,2020 a court ordered that the new Public Charge rule is blocked from being used in every state in the U.S. That means the old, more limited, Public Charge rule is in place again. Please check back for updated information at oregonlawhelp.org, https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge, https://orlhc.org/public-charge/, or https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/
Remember, the Public Charge rule DOES NOT apply to everybody.
Generally, the Public Charge rule only applies to:
- People who are seeking admission or re-admission into the U.S.
- People applying to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR or green card holders) status or
- People applying for visa extensions/renewals.
Remember: Most immigrants who qualify for public benefits are exempt from the Public Charge test. These are some of the types of immigrants who do not have to worry about Public Charge,as long as they don’t leave the U.S. for more than 6 months:
- People who are already LPRs (green card holders) including those renewing their LPR card
- VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners
- T or U Visa applicants/holders
(some survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other crimes)
- Special immigrant juveniles
- Active military duty families, and others.
The Public Charge rule is clear that benefits received only by an immigrant’s family members (children or others) DO NOT count during the immigrant’s public charge test in the US.
The Public Charge rule DOES NOT include all public benefits.
If you are one of the few immigrants who need to worry about Public Charge, remember there are some important benefits that do not count in a Public Charge test.
|Some of the Benefits that can be
counted in a Public Charge Test:
|Some of the Benefits that are not counted in a Public Charge Test inside the US:|
The new rule counts the following benefits too, but while the rule is blocked, they do not count for Public Charge.
» Non-emergency Medicaid (OHP) for adults who are not pregnant
» Public Housing and Section 8 subsidized housing
» SNAP (food stamps)
Not a complete list.
*While the new rule is blocked, even regular Medicaid (non- emergency OHP for adults who aren’t pregnant) Public Housing, Section 8, and SNAP do NOT count towards public charge.*
And many, many more!
What you can do:
Understand whether the public charge test applies to you before you drop any benefits your family needs. There is no one right answer for everyone.
- Seek advice from an immigration attorney. Find immigration attorneys at
- Seek public benefits/public charge legal advice from Legal Aid/Oregon Law Center’s Public Benefits Hotline at 1-800-520-5292.
- Stay informed about changes to Public Charge by checking
Public charge does not apply to many benefits and many categories of immigrants. Do not give up important benefits that your family needs, like food assistance and health care, based on rumors and fear. Be informed so you can make the right choice for you and your family.
|Know the Facts About Public Charge:
What is “Public Charge” and who does it apply to?
“Public charge” is a test that U.S. immigration officials apply when deciding if an immigrant will be permitted to enter or stay in the country.
The Public Charge test only applies to immigrants:
- Applying to enter the U.S.
- Applying to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (get a green card).
- A Lawful Permanent Resident who reenters after being out of the U.S. for at least 180 consecutive days
- Under the new rule, the public charge test will also apply when someone is applying for extension of stay or to change current visa.
People in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons (such as refugees, asylees and T or U visa holders) are not subject to the Public Charge test. Also, the Public Charge test does not apply to immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship.
For more information go to the following website: protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.
What about Public Charge is changing?
Under the new rule, which is slated to take effect on October 15, 2019, three major things are changing:
1. The definition of Public Charge
The new definition is: A person 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 benefits in one month counts as two months).”
2. The types of public benefits that may count as Public Charge
In addition to cash assistance and long-term care, the new rule will also consider:
- Non-emergency Medicaid for non-pregnant adults older than 21
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps)
- Section 8 (vouchers and project based) and Public Housing
3. What is considered in the Public Charge test
New factors that will be considered include things like financial status and English proficiency
What you can do:
- Do not give up the benefits you and your family need due to rumors and fear.
- The new Public Charge rule may not affect you.
- Get advice so you can make the right choice for you and your family.
- Contact an immigration attorney at Oregon Law Help or the Oregon State Bar for help in finding the right attorney for you.
- Call Oregon’s Public Benefits Hotline at 1-800-520-5292.
- Stay informed; fight fear with facts.
- Follow oregonimmigrationresource.org and protectingimmigrantfamilies.org for the latest news and to make your voice heard!
For Service Providers
Service Provider Resources:
- Download our Fact Sheet – Know the Facts about Public Charge
- View the #ProtectFamilies Toolkit for public charge advocacy in Oregon
- Download the State of Oregon’s Public Charge FAQ
- Visit Protecting Immigrant Families to learn more about public benefits usage and immigration.
- Public Charge webinar and slides coming soon!!!
- Read recommendations from the National Immigrant Law Center: How to Talk with Immigrant Families About Public Charge
Guidance for Providers: Sharing the Facts about Public Charge
- Be sure your information is current – Make sure you are sharing the facts. If you are using a print version, there may be updates at Oregon Immigration Resource. Follow Protecting Immigrant Families for the most up to date information.
- Do not spread fear about Public Charge. Provide accurate, fact- based information about all the benefits that do not currently create public charge issues and all the categories of immigrants who are exempt from the question of public charge.
- Inform people that the rules have not changed (unless a person is seeking permission to enter the US from outside the country). Encourage people to make informed decisions about how likely it is they will ever face questions about public charge, versus how much their family needs critical important public benefits like food, shelter, and health care.
- Do not give legal advice or attempt to interpret how the law or rule applies to an individual’s specific situation, rather help them find the right legal resource to do so. Public charge is a complicated issue and each individual’s case is different.
- Support your participants in making informed decisions: direct people with questions about the likelihood this will affect their immigration case to speak to their attorney, or to find one using the directories at Oregon Immigration Resource. Direct those with questions about benefits and enrollment to Oregon’s Public Benefits Hotline: 1-800-520-5292.
- Tell families they are not alone, that there are groups mobilizing statewide and nationally to keep the rule from becoming law, and that there is still time to fight back and make their voices heard. Direct them to Protecting Immigrant Families to learn how they can get involved.
- Take action: Sign up as your organization’s representative on Protecting Oregon’s Immigrant Families to receive updates and tools to support fair access to services for all families.
- Find more advice for providers:
Deportations and ICE activity
We have received dozens of questions from the community regarding rumors about Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, immigration checkpoints, and other enforcement activity suspected of happening throughout Oregon.
Recent changes to our nation’s immigration policy have undoubtedly caused fear and panic within Oregon’s immigrant communities. Below is the latest information we have on ICE activity and what to do if you witness ICE activity or are detained.
Step one: Keep yourself safe.
Stay calm, maintain a safe distance, and do not interfere with or obstruct law enforcement. Interfering with or obstructing with law enforcement can unnecessarily escalate situations and lead to your injury or arrest.
Step two: Document the interaction.
If you have a smartphone, download the Mobile Justice Oregon App, also available in Spanish. This app will let you take video that is sent directly to the ACLU of Oregon. It also will walk you through a questionnaire that will help you document the incident after you’re done recording. If you don’t have a smartphone, but your phone has a camera, take pictures, write down your impressions immediately.
Step three: Call or text the ACLU of Oregon immigration hotline
Call or text the ACLU of Oregon immigration hotline: (971) 412-ACLU or the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition hotline at 1-888-622-1510. You should only use these hotlines when you personally witness an action or have information from a first-hand account of an action (i.e., you’re calling on behalf of someone who was a first-hand witness). Responders will work with community partners to both confirm rumors and disseminate accurate information.
For more information, visit: http://aclu-or.org/content/information-ice-raids-oregon.
Protect Your Family
Every family should be prepared in case of emergency. Parents may want to plan for their children’s care in the event that they are detained, deported, incapacitated, or otherwise unavailable for any period of time.
Family Preparedness plan
This document is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. The recommendations and forms in this packet may not be appropriate for your situation. We recommend that you consult with an attorney to ensure that your legal documents are appropriate for your individual circumstances.
We do not guarantee that these forms will be legally binding. If you are reading the Spanish translation of this document, make sure to fill out the English version of the forms.
Download the Family Preparedness plan in English.
Download the Family Preparedness plan in Spanish.
Do not take advice or counsel from public notaries. Only lawyers or DOJ-accredited representatives can provide legal advice on your immigration process. You can find a list of official legal providers here.
This information has been furnished by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S DREAMS
- Don’t be fooled by false advertisements, “notarios”, or attorneys who charge an unreasonable amount of money and tell you they can file your application.
- Don’t believe it if someone tells you about a secret new immigration law or claims to have connections or special influence with any government office or agency
- Don’t pay money to someone to refer you to an immigration lawyer
- Walk away if an immigration lawyer doesn’t have a license
- Never sign an application that contains false information, and try not to sign blank forms. If you must sign a blank form, make sure you get a copy of the completed form and check to make sure all the information is correct before it is filed
- Always get proof that your papers have been filed–ask for a copy or government filing receipt whenever anything is submitted in your case
- Insist on a written contract that spells out all fees and expenses and make sure you receive a receipt, especially if you pay cash. If terms change, get a written explanation
- Don’t let anyone “find” you a sponsor or spouse to get you a green card–it’s illegal
HAVE YOU BEEN HARMED BY A CONSULTANT OR NOTARIO?
By promising too much–and knowing too little–notarios often destroy the dreams of immigrants. They promise low-cost, quick results for everything from citizenship to green card renewal, but often do not know immigration law. Even if they actually do the work they promise, such as file green card papers, they may do it incorrectly and cause permanent harm. In fact, many notarios are simply scam artists, taking their “client’s” trust–and money–without ever delivering results.
WHERE AND HOW CAN YOU REPORT AN INDIVIDUAL SUSPECTED OF FRAUDULENTLY ADVERTISING IMMIGRATION OR TAX PREPARATION SERVICES?
The Oregon Department of Justice consumer hotline: 1-877-877-9392 ext. 0 (ext. 1 for Spanish)
The Oregon State Bar also investigates cases of “notario’ fraud, and communicates with the Oregon Department of Justice. The complaint form (only available in English) must be printed out and faxed or mailed in.
HOW CAN YOU FIND QUALIFIED IMMIGRATION ASSISTANCE?
If you need help finding a qualified immigration lawyer in your area, you can contact the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) online at www.ailalawyer.com or visit our Legal Resources page.
Don’t be fooled! Many dishonest consultants will claim to be lawyers or accredited representatives. If you consult an immigration lawyer, make sure the immigration lawyer is licensed. If you work with an accredited representative, ask to see his or her accreditation with his or her current non-profit organization.
Don’t be afraid to consult an attorney! Many notarios actually charge more than attorneys to handle cases. It often costs nothing to talk to a lawyer about your personal situation. To find an attorney, visit our legal resources page.
Watch Video: “Stop Notario Fraud”
For more information about notario fraud, please visit www.StopNotarioFraud.org
Request Community Meeting
In addition to the resources available on this website, we’re traveling the state to provide community education forums, answer questions, and provide important information and updates.
For a full list of schedule community education meetings, please visit our Events Page to see if there is meeting near you.
If you don’t see an event in your area, you can request one here. Please fill out the form below or call 503-409-2473.