Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Public Charge: What you need to know

On March 9, 2021 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to stop defending the Trump-era public charge regulations, resulting in a dismissal of pending appeals. This means that the final judgment entered in the Northern District of Illinois on Nov 2, 2020, which vacated the public charge rule nationwide is now in effect. In other words, the Trump Administration’s 2019 public charge rule is permanently blocked, nationwide. This means the changes made to public charge under the Trump Administration are no longer in effect. It is now safe for immigrants and their families to access all healthy, nutrition, and housing programs for which they are eligible.

What’s Next?

As a member of the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition, PICC will continue to track development on public charge. We hope to see the Biden Administration communicate these changes to ensure all immigrant families feel safe accessing needed health and nutrition programs. We also hope to see DHS quickly develop and issue new public charge regulation to ensure this change is permanent.

Public Charge and COVID-19:

  • Public charge only impacts people APPLYING for a green card
  • USCIS has announced that seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment will NOT be considered in any public charge determinations
  • Going to a public health clinic is NOT included in any public charge determinations
  • Filing for unemployment is NOT included in any public charge determinations

What is the new Public Charge Rule? The new public charge rule expands the existing public charge doctrine, making it even more difficult for immigrants to obtain green cards and keep their families together. Under the new rule, the use of a wide range of public benefits, including Medicaid and SNAP, will be counted against individuals applying for a green card.

The rule does not apply to every immigrant. Speak to a trusted legal adviser who is knowledgeable about public benefits before changing your enrollment status for any public benefits. This rule was designed to be confusing, complicated, and scary. Anyone who thinks this rule change might apply to them should talk to a trusted adviser who is familiar with both public benefits and immigration law before dis-enrolling from any public benefits program.

PICC and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia are partnering to ensure immigrant and refugee communities in PA are receiving up-to-date information about this rule.

What You Can Do:

  1. Educate Yourself
    1. Learn from experts about what the rule means:
      1. Watch Feb. 12, 2020 webinar on public charge with presenter from Community Legal Services-Philadelphia
      2. Watch Sep. 11, 2019 webinar with presenters from Community Legal Services-Philadelphia and HIAS Pennsylvania
      3. Download the slides attached
      4. Download the attached materials
    2. Download materials from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign
  2. Educate Your Community
    1. Host community education sessions
    2. Write letters to the editor
  3. Advocate!
    1. Members of Congress can take action by cosponsoring HR 3222, the No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act and speak out against this harmful rule change. Contact your representative today!
    2. Submit stories of how public charge impacts your community to be used in advocacy with public agencies and ongoing litigation.


Last updated Apr 14 2021