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Information about the Public Charge rule and how it may impact you

Information about the Public Charge rule

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Information about the Public Charge rule


On March 9, 2021 the Federal Government announced it is going back to the long-standing Public Charge Guidance in effect from the 1990s through 2019. Here is the Federal announcement and a link to the Guidance

This means that Medicaid (MassHealth), public housing, and SNAP do not count as part of the Public Charge determination. The only benefits considered in public charge are programs (including Medicaid) that pay for long-term care in a medical institution such as a nursing home and needs-based cash assistance benefits such as SSI, TAFDC and EAEDC.

Unemployment benefits, WIC benefits, Pandemic EBT and Health Connector subsidies (Advance Premium Tax Credits/ConnectorCare) are also not subject to the public charge rules. The Guidance lists examples of many other benefits that are not subject to public charge, and the many types of immigrants who are not subject to the public charge test.

If you have questions about how this impacts you, we recommend speaking to an immigration expert.

For a list of immigration services in the community, click here. Information is available in multiple languages on the site.

Information about COVID-19

All individuals who qualify for MassHealth, Children’s Medical Security Plan, or Health Safety Net have access to the following services for free. None of these services are considered in the public charge test:

  • COVID-19 testing and treatment (find COVID-19 testing sites near you here)
  • COVID-19 vaccines (learn about when you’re eligible to get a vaccine and how to schedule an appointment here) and
  • Help with transportation to the location where you have scheduled a vaccine appointment (learn more here)

All individuals, regardless of immigration status, are strongly encouraged to receive COVID-19 testing, treatment, and the vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines.

Help with food

If you need food assistance, you are not alone. As a result of COVID-19, one in three people in Massachusetts needs help getting food, many for the first time. Several programs can help you and your family get the food you need to stay healthy.

Visit mass.gov/findfoodhelp for information about immediate access to food, as well as ongoing monthly financial support to buy food.

  • Please refer to the attached letter in English and in Spanish from The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that states that “applying for or receiving SNAP does not make you a public charge and will not be considered in a public charge determination.  Applying for or receiving SNAP will not affect your ability to:  Remain in the United States, Get a Green Card/Permanent Legal Resident Status, Keep a Green Card/Permanent Legal Resident Status, or Become a U.S. Citizen.”
  • To apply for SNAP (monthly food dollars), visit DTAConnect.com.
  • To learn more about Pandemic EBT (food dollars for families with children), visit MAp-EBT.org.


For information about applying for health coverage, visit MAhealthconnector.org; or call:

  • MassHealth 1-800-841-2900; Health Connector 1-877-623-6765

For information about applying for public assistance benefits, visit DTAConnect.com; or call:

  • Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA): 1-877-382-2363
Date published: January 30, 2020
Last updated: March 22, 2021

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