Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Public Charge: What you need to know

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

As of Jan. 27, 2020 the Supreme Court has allowed the administration to go forward with this rule. The Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin implementing the new rule on Feb. 24, 2020.

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 Jun 3 2020