Agency on Aging

Changes to Immigration Admissibility Guidelines

“Public charge” or the “public charge test” is used by immigration officials to decide whether a person can enter the U.S. or get a green card (lawful permanent resident or “LPR” status). In this test, officials look at all of a person’s circumstances, including income, employment, health, education or skills, family situation and whether a sponsor signed a contract (“affidavit of support”) promising to support the person. Officials can also look at whether a person has used certain benefit programs (in the past, only cash assistance and long-term care were counted).

The government is changing how it makes public charge decisions. Immigration officials will look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
• Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
• Medicaid (except for emergency services, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers)
• Cash assistance programs (like SSI, TANF, General Assistance)
***Services that are not listed above will not be counted in the new public charge test. This includes WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, and many more.

information provided by

  • Let’s Talk About Public Charge - This resource is designed to help immigrants, mixed-status families, and communities understand the core elements of public charge. 
  • Getting the Help You Need - This resource is designed for people that work directly with immigrant families to help them understand whether they are subject to public charge.