Potential Changes in “Public Charge” Assessment
Office of Community Affairs, Immigrant Services, is deeply concerned about the proposed changes to federal immigration rules called “Public Charge,” which define how an immigrant resident’s application to enter the country or receive a green card is assessed. The proposed changes significantly expand what public benefits are considered (e.g., Medi‐Cal, CalFresh, public housing or Section 8 vouchers) in determining whether an immigrant resident is defined as likely to be a public charge. The County is engaged in advocacy around these issues through the Board of Supervisors. As of now, no rule changes have been implemented yet.
What Clients Should Know
At this point, the County encourages residents to continue accessing the public benefits and services that they need and remain available to them. Any rule changes would not go into effect until after public comments are reviewed. Residents will have time to make decisions about enrollment in public programs once any rules changes are implemented. Maintaining health benefits in order to remain healthy and employable is important and being employed is viewed as a positive factor in assessing public charge. The National Immigration Law Center has posted a document called “How to Talk About Public Charge with Immigrants and their Families” that includes these key messages:
 The policy on public charge decisions made within the U.S. has not yet changed.
 The proposed rule is still a draft. Once it is posted, the federal agency must accept and respond to comments on it. It will not be implemented until after it becomes final, which will take additional time.
 Not all immigrants are subject to the public charge test.
 The public charge test looks at all the person’s circumstances, weighing positive factors against any negative ones.
 If the proposed rule becomes final, noncash benefits (other than long‐term care) used before that time will not be considered. Using benefits now can help you or your family members become healthier, stronger, and more employable in the future.
 Federal and state laws protect the privacy of people who apply for or receive health care coverage, nutrition, economic support, or other public benefits.
 Get help deciding what’s best for your family and, if you can, consult with an immigration attorney or a Board of Immigration Appeals–accredited representative about your own situation.

Helpful Resources

Public Charge 2-Pager in English and Spanish (The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County)

Quick analysis of the proposed changes to Public Charge (Protecting Immigrant Families)

How to Talk About Public Charge with Immigrants & Their Families  (National Immigration Law Center)

An overview of Public Charge (The ILRC)

Public Charge 101 Webinar  (Protecting Immigrant Families)

Check out the videos produced by the Human Services Agency and the International Institute of the Bay Area below in English, Spanish, English with Chinese subtitles and English with Tagalog subtitles