People sitting in a waiting room.

Public Charge

“Public charge” is a ground of inadmissibility. Grounds of inadmissibility are reasons that a person could be denied a green card, visa, or admission into the United States. In deciding whether to grant some applicants a green card or a visa, an immigration officer must decide whether that person is likely to become dependent on certain government benefits in the future, which would make them a “public charge.” It is not a test that applies to everyone, not even to all those applying for green cards.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) provides trainings and technical assistance on public charge, produces numerous practice advisories, toolkits, and other resources, and authors a comprehensive manual, Public Charge and Immigration Law.

What's Happening with Public Charge?

The latest updates on public charge.

Latest Resources

FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
09/08/2022
Many undocumented immigrants are now eligible for Medi-Cal. This bilingual, two-sided flyer is meant to provide a quick overview of eligibility and key notes regarding the healthcare benefit. Included are also links for identifying registration directories as well as a national directory for free or low-cost immigration legal services.
Resources
Resources
Publication Date
08/29/2022
In California, there are several state and local programs that help California families, including immigrants, meet their basic needs. These programs often play an important role by extending benefits to immigrants who are not eligible for federal benefit programs. This resource gives an overview of some of the public benefits that are available to immigrants in California to access education, healthcare, food assistance, and other important necessities.
Practice Advisory
Resources
Publication Date
05/04/2022
This advisory provides practitioners with current information about the public charge ground of inadmissibility, including addressing what is public charge, who does it apply to, how is public charge evaluated, and could being a public charge make someone deportable.
Toolkit & Reports
Resources
Publication Date
02/25/2022
This toolkit is designed to assist education and outreach workers presenting public charge information to immigrant community members. Some of the materials in the toolkit have a California focus or include California-specific details, but all materials remain useful for a national audience. Our goal is to spread accurate information about what public charge is and who is impacted by it, to help reverse the chilling effect from the Trump public charge rule which is no longer in effect.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
09/27/2021
Contact tracing is a public health program that helps slow the spread of infectious diseases, like COVID-19 (coronavirus). Because COVID-19 is very contagious, many states have implemented contact tracing programs to protect communities from the virus. California launched California Connected, its contact tracing program, in May 2020. This resource, which describes the California Connected program in Q&A format, highlights issues of interest to the immigrant community, including the language competency of contact tracers, the confidentiality of shared personal information, and public charge considerations.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
05/24/2021
This handout provides a list of some of the most common public benefits programs that do not count for public charge. Whether or not public charge applies to you and no matter your immigration status, the programs on this list are safe to use.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
05/04/2021
This new handout, written for youth and families with questions about the “public charge” rule, provides an overview of public charge and answers common questions about its application.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
10/21/2021
This sample community meeting PowerPoint slide deck can be used to help education and outreach workers present information about public charge to community members. The PowerPoint slides are notated with what you can say as you present. We also include Sample Audience Questions and Answers that education and outreach workers can use when responding to questions from community members about public charge.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
09/10/2021
In 2020 and 2021, the ILRC generated three distinct social media pushes on public charge and four “breaking news” graphics to educate the immigrant community on policy developments and related issues. In this resource, we share information on those pushes and links to the graphics on Instagram as inspiration for social media posts other organizations or advocates may wish to share or create, depending on their audience.
FAQs & Explainers
Resources
Publication Date
09/30/2021
This overview of public charge and immigration law summarizes what public charge is and how it affects noncitizens, provides a glossary of key public charge and immigration law terms, and explains the public charge rules and legal challenges. 

Public Charge Safe to Use List

This resource lists some of the most common public benefits programs that do not count for public charge, no matter your immigration status.