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Information About the Public Charge Rule

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

Following a Supreme Court decision on January 27, 2020, the federal government will be changing how your application for a green card or entry into the United States may cause you to become a public charge. The federal government will begin applying the rule on February 24, 2020.

The public charge rules are complicated and may impact your immigration status.  Applying for benefits – even if you are denied – could also impact your immigration status, so it is recommended that you direct questions to an immigration expert.  You may also want to consult the fact sheets listed below.

The recent changes allow more types of Federally-funded 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 Federal public housing.

State assistance programs will not be considered when making public charge determinations.  These include:

  • MRVP (Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program)
  • AHVP (Alternative Housing Voucher Program)
  • State-aided public housing
  • Emergency Assistance family shelter program
  • HomeBASE
  • RAFT

Certain other Federal housing or housing-related programs not listed in the rule also will not be considered when making public charge determinations.  These include:

  • Section 202 elderly housing
  • Section 811 supporting housing for persons with disabilities
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
  • McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance
  • LIHEAP

For more information about what benefits may or may not be taken into account in a public charge determination, you may want to consult fact sheets available at PIF Fact Sheet:  Know Your Rights and Health Care for All Fact Sheet.

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
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