Proposed Public Charge Regulation Frequently Asked Questions
DISCLAIMER: This FAQ has legal information, not legal advice. To know what’s best for your particular situation, contact a lawyer.
The Trump Administration has proposed new rules that would force immigrant families to choose between meeting basic needs, like food and health care, or being together in the U.S. with people they love. If approved, applicants or their family members could be denied immigration status if they use – or even apply for – public health care or nutrition programs. This reckless proposal would change current U.S. immigration “public charge” policy.
Dangerous consequences predicted. Dozens of America’s leading voices for health, nutrition, education, equity and opportunity are leading an effort against this destructive proposal. They fear: Some children would not have enough food. Basic health screenings would not be done. More families would find themselves in deeper poverty. The proposed rules would make us a less healthy, poorer, more racially divided nation. Now is the time for the public to speak up to let the Administration know that this proposed rule is not in line with our national values or our national interests.
Read this FAQ sheet to learn more about this topic. You can find more resources, including fact sheets and talking points, at http://bit.ly/PIFresources.
What is a “public charge”? For many years, the term “public charge” has been used to describe to a person who needs government help to meet his or her basic needs. If the U.S. government decides you are likely to depend on public aid as your primary support, they can refuse to let you:
· Enter or return to the U.S., and
· Become a lawful permanent resident (get a green card).
If you already have a green card (lawful permanent resident) and are applying to become a U.S. citizen, the public charge test does not apply to you. Currently, immigration law may consider you a public charge if you receive:
· Cash aid, including:
- TANF (Welfare). TANF uses different names in different states.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI gives income to qualified people who have disabilities or are over age 65.
· Long-term care, such as Medicaid coverage for a nursing home.
What does the Trump Administration propose? The proposed policy would change the rules to:
· Add more kinds of programs whose beneficiaries could be considered public charges, and
· Allow the government to review an immigrant’s use of public programs and the immigrant’s family member’s use of public programs, even if the family member is a U.S. citizen
Which programs would immigration officials monitor? The proposed policy would add more programs whose beneficiaries could be considered public charges, including:
· Health coverage:
- Medicaid, except for emergency Medicaid.
- CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
- Obamacare Health insurance marketplace subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
· Food Aid, like WIC and SNAP (Food Stamps)
· Rent subsidies, like Section 8 housing vouchers
· Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP (help with heating or air conditioning costs)
· Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
· Other programs
Important! If the proposed rule is approved, the government must look at your whole situation to decide if you are likely to depend on government programs in the future. If you got benefits from one of these programs in the past but will not need the benefits in the future, you can try to prove you will not need those benefits by showing you have a job or other way of meeting your needs now.
Should I stop the benefits we are getting? No. If you or your family are getting benefits to:
· go to the doctor,
· pay for food, or
· pay rent,
– do not stop your benefits. The green card application already asks about the government programs you have used. The proposed rule says it will only apply to programs you use after the rule starts.
What if my children use health care, nutrition, education or other programs? At this time, it’s OK for children to receive cash welfare unless it is the parent’s only support. But if the proposed rule is approved, families who receive cash welfare for their children can be considered a public charge, even if the children are U.S. citizens.
Does the proposed rule apply to ALL immigrants? No. The proposed rule would not affect:
· immigrants with green cards applying for citizenship (naturalization),
· some humanitarian immigrants, including refugees, immigrants who are applying for or were granted asylum (asylees), and women, men, or children applying for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and
· some other immigrants
If I use Medicaid or Obamacare will I get in trouble with immigration? If you are living in the U.S. and applying for a green card or immigration status here, it’s still OK for you to use Medicaid or Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act Insurance). If the proposed rule is approved, the government must look at your whole situation to decide if you are likely to depend on government programs in the future. If you had Medicaid or got help paying for Obamacare in the past but will not need either program in the future, you can try to prove you will not need those benefits by showing you have a job or other health insurance now.
If I get Food Stamps or WIC, will I get in trouble with immigration? If you are living in the U.S. and applying for a green card or immigration status here, it’s still OK for you to receive Food Stamps (SNAP) or get help from WIC (Women, Infants, and Children’s Program). If the proposed rule is approved, the government must look at your whole situation to decide if you are likely to depend on government programs in the future. If you used Food Stamps or WIC in the past, you can try to prove you will not need those benefits in the future by showing you have a job now or do not need food aid now.
If my kids go to Head Start/Early Head Start will I get in trouble with immigration? No. The proposed rule does not affect educational programs like Head Start or Early Head Start.
I am undocumented. If I apply for Medicaid, Food Stamps or other programs for my children, can they report me to immigration? No. The agencies you apply to MUST keep your information private and confidential. They cannot share it with ICE for immigration enforcement. The proposed rule does not change this – even if some family members do not have legal immigration status.
If you apply for Medicaid, CHIP, Obamacare Marketplace insurance, SNAP or WIC for your child, you only have to give information about your child’s citizenship or immigration status. You do not have to give – and the applications must not ask for – immigration status information about yourself or others in the household not applying for benefits.
Important! If you are undocumented, it’s OK for you to apply for your child. But do not provide any information about your own immigration status. Say, “I am not applying for benefits for myself.”
Should I cancel a doctor’s appointment because of the proposed rule? No. Right now this rule is just a proposal. Keep going to the doctor. Continue using healthcare programs you qualify for, like Medicaid and Obamacare.
Is it true that I cannot bring relatives to this country anymore? No. The proposed rule tries to make it harder for families to be together. You can still petition to bring your family members to the U.S.
I am undocumented but my kids are citizens or have papers. Will I get in trouble with immigration if I take them to their doctor, school or daycare, or get benefits for them? No one should ask you about your immigration status when you take your kids to the doctor, school, or get benefits for them. If someone asks you about your legal status, you do not have to answer. If the proposed rule is approved it could be harder for you to get papers or a green card, but that does not mean you will be deported. It is important to avoid immigration problems and to get food and health care. Learn more and decide what is best for you and your family. Click here for more immigration resources.
A few years ago, I used benefits to see a doctor and buy food. Does that mean I won’t be able to get a green card? The proposed rule does not apply to benefits you received in the past. The benefits you received before the rule will not affect your ability to get a green card.
If I have a green card and use benefits to go to a doctor does that mean I cannot become a citizen?
No. The proposed rule does not affect people applying for U.S. citizenship.
I am a refugee. Can I still apply for programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps? Yes. The public charge rules do not apply to refugees.
My lawyer said I should stop getting public aid, like Medicaid or Food Stamps. Should I stop? If you are living in the U.S. and are applying for a green card or immigration status here, you don’t need to stop getting assistance right now.
Lawyers are often very careful, especially in uncertain times. The proposed rule says changes will not apply to public aid you received before the rule is approved. That means that you don’t have to worry about the public aid you or your family received in the past or will receive until the rule is changed.
If you are worried about the risks of applying for or receiving public aid, get advice about:
· how the proposed rule could impact your situation, and
· any pathway to lawful permanent residence that you or a family member has in the near future. If your chances of getting lawful immigration status in the future are not clear, get free or low-cost immigration help, such as the online National Immigration Legal Services Directory.
I have my green card. Can the government deport or “remove” me because my family or I use programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps? No. The government cannot deport/remove you just because you got public aid that you were eligible to receive.
Can naturalized U.S. citizens lose their citizenship if they use programs like Medicaid or Food Stamps?
No. U.S. citizens cannot lose their citizenship because they got public aid from the government. Once you become a U.S. citizen, the government cannot deport you, and they must always let you return to the U.S. after a trip to another country.
When could the proposed rule be approved and start? We do not know for sure. The law says the government cannot change the rules without first
· Giving the public a chance to give their opinions, and
· Considering all of the public’s comments
That means anyone—your doctor, community leaders, your neighbors, your relatives, and even you have the opportunity to speak up. Click here to send your comments.
The government must read all comments. It must decide based on the information, opinions, stories, and facts submitted. This usually takes several months. The proposed rule was made on ___[date]___. It gives the public until __[date]____ to share their comments.
If the government decides to change the rule in response to the comments, it takes at least one month for the rule to start. Congress does not have to approve the rule for it to become effective, but it should also review the rule. Review in Congress could slow down or block the rule.
How can I speak up against this proposal? Before this proposal can be approved, the government must:
· Give the public a chance to give their opinions, and
· Consider each comment the public sends.
You can join thousands of people and organizations who are speaking out against this proposal by sharing your comments or story. Click here to send your message about why this proposal is a bad idea and how it will hurt you, your family, your community, and your nation. You do not have to list your contact information or your immigration status – just your name. If you do not want to provide your name, you can ask a friend or representative to share your story for you.
What if I have more questions? Talk to someone who knows the rules. Contact trusted sources of information, including:
· An immigration rights organization,
· A community health care organization, or
· Your immigration lawyer
Warning! To avoid wrong information, only talk to lawyers and trusted organizations. Find more information at the National Immigration Law Center website: www.nilc.org.
This information was written by MomsRising with The Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future campaign, co-chaired by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).