Public Charge updates, information and resources

Breaking News: DHS Secretary Statement on the 2019 Public Charge Rule

Release Date: March 9, 2021

Today, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.

“The 2019 public charge rule was not in keeping with our nation’s values. It penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Consistent with the President’s vision, we will continue to implement reforms that improve our legal immigration system.”

President Biden’s Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans called for an immediate review of agency actions on public charge inadmissibility and deportability. DHS’s review, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and State and the federal benefits-granting agencies, is ongoing. 

As discussed in DHS’s litigation statement, and consistent with the government’s decision not to defend the rule, the Department of Justice is no longer pursuing appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 public charge rule. Today, the Department of Justice dismissed its pending appeals in the Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit, and is in the process of doing so in the Fourth Circuit. Following the Seventh Circuit dismissal this afternoon, the final judgment from the Northern District of Illinois, which vacated the 2019 public charge rule, went into effect. As a result, the 1999 interim field guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision (i.e., the policy that was in place before the 2019 public charge rule) is now in effect. 



The US Supreme Court lifted the injunction on the Public Charge rule. What exactly does this mean?

Implementation of Public Charge
The Office of Community Affairs, Immigrant Services is deeply concerned about the changes to the federal immigration rule called “Public Charge,” that went into effect on February 24, 2020. Public Charge defines how an immigrant resident’s application to enter the United States or receive a Legal Permanent Resident (aka a "Green Card") is assessed. The change significantly expands 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 encourages residents to continue accessing the public benefits and services that remain available to them and to contact our office with any questions or concerns. We continue to serve as the County's Public Charge Call Center, and we are happy to help. Remember that 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. 
USCIS has published a Public Charge Fact Sheet with information on the new changes and February 24, 2020 effective date.
Visit the USCIS website for more information and guidance.
What Clients Should Know
  • The new rule interprets a provision of the Immigration and National Act pertaining to inadmissibility.
  • The inadmissibility ground at issue states that a person is inadmissible if they are likely to become a public charge.
  • This law only applies to individuals seeking admission into the United States or applying for adjustment of status.
  • This law does not apply to designated humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles, certain traficking victims, victims of qualifying criminal activity, or victims of domestic violence.
  • Public charge and this rule do not apply in the naturalization process.

Helpful Resources

Public Charge PSA (English) from SMC Human Services Agency on Vimeo.


View video in Spanish, Tagalog, or Chinese »

What is Public Charge? 1 page fact sheet in English, Arabic, Aermenian, Farsi, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Traditional & Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese (Health Consumer Alliance, updated January 2020)

Public Charge: Does this apply to me? (Protecting Immigrant Families, updated January 2020)

Should I keep my children enrolled in Health & Nutrition programs? (Protecting Immigrant Families, updated January 2020)

            Amharic | Arabic | Burmese | Chinese | French | Haitian Creole | Hindi | Korean

How does the new "Public Charge" rule impact children and youth? (ILRC April 2020)

Public Charge Screening test (The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County)

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

Core messages about Public Charge (Protecting Immigrant Families)

An overview of Public Charge (The ILRC)

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