The Public Charge Issue: Information and Resources

Public Charge is a part of federal immigration law that allows the denial of a U.S. visa to anyone who “is likely at any time to become a public charge” or suspected of becoming reliant on  government as their main source of support. If the government determines that a person is likely to become a “public charge,” it can deny a person admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent residence (or “green card” status).

In October, 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Trump proposed to change this long-standing policy by excluding anyone who is likely to use certain health care, nutrition or housing programs in the future. The proposed “test” added specific standards for income, health, age and even English proficiency, and expanded the forms of public assistance that are counted in a “public charge” determination.

The Public Charge rule was deeply harmful to the health and wellbeing of millions and many families were confused by the complicated “tests” and even those eligible for services stopped seeking these vital supports.

Under the Biden Administration this rule has been rescinded:

On March 9th, 2021 Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the government will no longer defend the 2019 public charge rule “as doing so is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources.” See statement here.

See this article from March 10, 2021 for reference on the Biden administration’s decision:


NNIRR is a member of Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, that fought against public charge and worked to keep the community informed every step of the way. They have created an updated set of “Know Your Rights” resources in several languages about public charge that you can access here.

On APRIL 9, 2021: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Republican states’ efforts to keep the Public Charge Rule. Led by Arizona, the Attorneys General of several states sought to revive the appeals aiming to keep the 2019 Public Charge Rule in place after the 7th Circuit vacated the Rule on March 9th.

This court ruling on April 9th brings the fight to bring back Public Charge Rule to a close. They can no longer use this to determine eligibility for and applicants are not require to submit the forms that require a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.

Applicants are no longer required to submit a Form I-944 or DS-5540 when applying for permanent residency under the 1999 Field Guidance. Learn more.


Click here to download the Protecting Immigrant Families Fact Sheet with the information above and more.

#OneNation — the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) initiative on the public charge rule has updates and resources specifically to raise awareness and activate AAPI communitiesHow could this Public Charge rule affect states? Click here for updated fact sheets.

Protecting Immigrant Families – to learn more about the campaign, click here.