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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 new public charge rule

    Following a Supreme Court decision on January 27, 2020, the federal government will consider applications for and/or receipt of public benefits, such as certain types of MassHealth coverage, in determining whether a person is likely to become a public charge for federal immigration purposes. The federal government will begin applying the rule starting on February 24, 2020.

    The public charge rules are complicated and may impact an individual's immigration status. If you work with individuals that have questions about whether public charge applies to them or their family, we recommend the individual speak to an immigration expert.

    For more information about the public charge rule and for a list of immigration services in the community, visit Health Care For All. Information is also available in Spanish and Portuguese on

    The recent changes allow more types of public benefits to be considered when making public charge determinations. Benefits considered will now include:

    • Certain MassHealth benefits; 
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and
    • Rental assistance under Section 8 housing vouchers, and public housing. 

    The new rule does not change whether or not you are eligible for MassHealth or insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector. 

    There are health benefits that are not taken into account in a public charge determination, including: emergency Medicaid (MassHealth Limited), MassHealth coverage for pregnant women or children under age 21, and coverage through the Massachusetts Health Connector, including Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs), ConnectorCare, Health Safety Net, and unsubsidized health insurance.

    Many immigrants are not subject to public charge determinations. The revised public charge rule says that the following immigrant statuses are not subject to the public charge rule: 

    • Green card holders who do not leave the country for more than 6 months (180 days) 
    • Refugees
    • Asylees
    • Survivors of trafficking, domestic violence or other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders)
    • Special immigrant juveniles
    • Certain people paroled into the U.S.
    • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners
    • Active duty service-members

    For those immigrants who are subject to public charge, applying for benefits, even if they are denied, could also impact their immigration status, so it is recommended people direct questions to an immigration expert.


    For questions about health coverage as it relates to public charge, contact Health Care For All's HelpLine at (800) 272-4232.

    For questions about MassHealth coverage, or for verification of MassHealth coverage, contact MassHealth Customer Service at (800) 841-2900, TTY at (800) 497-4648, or visit a MassHealth Enrollment Center

    For a list of MassHealth Enrollment Centers please visit

    For questions about Health Connector coverage, contact Health Connector Customer Service at (877) 623-6765 or TTY at (877) 623-7773.


    Date published: February 19, 2020