On January 27, the Supreme Court lifted a nationwide-ban (except in Illinois) on enforcement of the “public charge” rule, pending further appeals. The administration then decided that it would begin to enforce the rule on February 24. On February 21, the Supreme Court ruled that the rule could be applied in Illinois. Therefore, as of Monday, the rule is being applied all over the country, even though it is still being challenged in court.
The “public charge” rule from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) changes the way that decisions are made about whether to issue a “green card” to an immigrant already residing in the US, or to issue a visa to someone who wants to enter the country, extend their stay, or change their visa type. The determination about whether someone is likely to become a “public charge” (that is, dependent on government services) will be based on a number of factors, including income, health status, and the use of public benefits after February 24, 2020.
It is important to remember that the use of benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP, by a person’s child or other family member DO NOT COUNT in public-charge determinations, and that many types of immigrants are exempt from the rule.
Also, the following benefits are NOT included in making in public charge determinations:
- The use of Medicaid for:
- people younger than 21
- pregnant and post-partum women
- individuals, spouses, and children of those in the U.S. military or Ready Reserve
- life-threatening emergencies
- school-based health services
Immigrants should seek legal counsel if they are concerned about how the rule might apply to them.
Public Charge Resources (most of which are useful for families):
- There Are New Federal “Public Charge” Rules Going Into Effect Next Week: Here’s What You Need to Know (Georgetown Center for Health Insurance Reforms, 2/18/20, updated 2/24/20), which provides links to other useful resources);
- Keep Your Benefits Guide (available in English, Spanish, and Chinese);
- Changes to Public Charge: Analysis and Frequently Asked Questions (updated 2/24/20), Should I Keep My Kids Enrolled In Health And Nutrition Programs?, and You Have Rights: Protect Your Health—Going To The Doctor (Protecting Immigrant Families, February 2020);
- FAQ: Public Charge and Health Coverage Programs, and How Changes to the Public Charge Immigration Policy Will Impact People Seeking Public Benefits, (Health Reform: Beyond the Basics, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/20/20).
From the Family Voices Washington DC Update