Department of Social Services

Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule Has Changed

When some people apply for a green card (lawful permanent resident status) or a visa to enter the US, they must pass a the "public charge" test. The test looks at whether a person is likely to depend primarily on government services in the future. Immigration officials look at all of a person's circumstances, including their age, income, health, education, skills, and family situation.

In the past few years the public charge rule has changed several times, leaving families confused. The law changed again in March 2021, making it easier for most families to pass the public charge test. 

What Programs Will Affect Me Under the Public Charge Rule?

The only public benefits that are considered negatively in the public charge test are: Work First (TANF), SSI, long-term institutional care at government expense.