For the last twenty years, a “public charge” has been defined as a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” This test has evolved during the 20th century and may be poised to change under the current administration. This advisory provides an overview of how adjudicators have applied the “totality of the circumstances” test in the public charge context to help advocates best counsel their clients and prepare applications in this climate of uncertainty.