Public Charge

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Public Charge


"Public charge" means an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.

U.S. Immigration law which has existed largely in its current form since 1891 refers to but does not define “public charge.” Rather, it requires officers to consider at a minimum the person’s age, health, family status, finances, and education or skills.

♦ An individual who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a legal permanent resident (Green Card).

Related content

Public Charge Rule

• The Trump administration changed the rule to expand the list of publicly-funded programs that immigration officers may consider when deciding whether someone is likely to become a public charge.

• The process to identify someone’s likelihood to use benefits was skewed to create denials.

♦ March 11, 2021 President Biden formally rescinded President Trump's expand definition of this rule.