Immigrants win fight against the expansion of the public charge rule!

March 16, 2021

President Biden recently announced an end to the public charge rule expanded by the Trump administration. Now, using most government assistance will not negatively impact immigrants when they apply to become legal permanent residents. The public charge rule does not affect asylum seekers.  

What is the public charge rule?

The public charge rule allows the government to deny an application for admission to the U.S. or for permanent residency if they believe that the applicant could become a “public charge,” or dependent on government assistance, in the future. To make this decision, the government considers the use of public benefits or government assistance. The Trump administration tried to expand the public charge rule to include more types of public benefits.  It was not successful!

What public benefits are now considered in the public charge test?

Now that the expanded rule will not go into effect, the government can only consider receipt of cash assistance for income maintenance and long-term institutionalized care at the expense of the government. Food assistance programs like SNAP or affordable housing programs such as Section 8 are not considered. Medicaid is only considered when it has been used to pay for long-term care.

What does this mean for asylum seekers?

The public charge rule has never applied to asylum seekers. If you receive assistance from a government program, win asylum and after one year, apply to become a legal permanent resident, you will not be affected. If you are exploring the possibility of applying for another type of immigration benefit or if you have another type of petition pending, you should speak with an attorney to learn if the public charge rule could affect you.

How do I know if me or my family can benefit from government assistance?

The most important thing is to make sure that you are eligible for government assistance before applying for the public benefit. To find out and receive help, you can contact social support organizations in your city. You can find organizations here.

In many areas of the U.S., you can also call the telephone number 211 to receive help with many issues, like housing, food, transportation, and health. You can read more about this here.

You can learn more or find resources about the public charge rule and other topics here.

For more information and resources from the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) visit our website.

Note: This information is for individuals seeking asylum in the United States and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.