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Q: What is the Public Charge rule?

A: An immigrant's application for a green card or immigrant visa is reviewed by government officials before they can obtain a legal status. The “public charge” test is part of that review. The federal government's new rule changed the public charge test so that additional specified public benefits, like Family PACT, can now be used as a negative factor for some people applying for a green card or immigrant visa.

U.S. citizens and many immigrants are not subject to a public charge test. And immigration officials have to look at a number of factors (such as age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, family members they support, and family who will support them), and any negative factor can be overcome by positive factors.

Q: Does the Public Charge Rule affect my ability to get health care? 

A: All of Planned Parenthood’s services (as well as those at Federally Qualified Health Centers known as community clinics) are available to everyone in our region regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay. Your medical information is private and is not shared with any immigration agencies such as ICE. If you are currently enrolled in Medi-Cal or Family PACT, you can continue to access health care services through Planned Parenthood regardless of your immigration status. However, IF the public charge rule applies to you and IF you use certain forms of Medi-Cal or Family PACT, it MAY affect your ability to get a green card or immigrant visa: read on to determine whether the public charge applies to you.

Q: Does the Public Charge Rule affect me or my family?

Potentially impacted:

  •  Immigrants applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence) or a visa to enter the United States.

Not impacted:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Citizenship applications
  • Green card renewals
  • Refugees/Asylees
  • VAWA, T/U and SIJ visas
  • DACA applications or renewals
  • TPS applications or renewals
  • Liberian DED eligible for LRIF

Q: What health care programs can I use if I’m worried about being a “public charge”?

Potentially impacted:

  • Medi-Cal (note exceptions below)
  • Family PACT (the "teal" card)

Not impacted:

  • Medi-Cal for coverage of:
    - emergency services
    - children under age 21
    - pregnant women including 60 days post-partum 
  • Medi-Cal for DACA recipients
  • Health4AllKids and Health4AllYoung Adults
  • Covered California (including subsidies) and CHIP
  • Title X, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, CDC programs

Also included in Public Charge test are other programs including:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (CalFresh, SNAP, “EBT” or “Food Stamps”)
  • Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
  • Cash assistance programs (like CalWORKS, SSI, TANF, General Assistance)

Services that are NOT counted in the public charge test for decisions made inside the U.S. include WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, state or local health care programs, and many more.

Q: When will the Public Charge Rule be in place?
The new rule began on February 24, 2020. Since Medi-Cal, Family PACT and CalFRESH are newly-added benefits, they will only be considered in the Public Charge test if they are received after February 24, 2020.

Q: Where can I find more info or see if the Public Charge Rule will impact me?
There are many different factors, exceptions, and considerations in determining if and how the Public Charge Rule may impact you. This document is for informational purposes only. For more information, go to Protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/know-your-rights or use the Public Charge assessment tool at KeepYourBenefitsCA.org or in Spanish at TusBeneficiosPublicos.org. This tool is also available via text by texting “Benefits” (for English), “Libre” (for Spanish), “福利” (Chinese) or “lợiích” (Vietnamese) to 650-376-8006.

For legal advice, please contact an immigration attorney or call the Legal Aid Society at 877-534-2524. You may also visit bit.ly/immigrationhelp to find additional resources.