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“Public charge” is a term used by USCIS officials to describe an applicant who they believe will become dependent on the government for a living.

When someone applies to enter the United States or when someone who already lives in the United States applies to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) they undergo a public charge assessment by a USCIS official.

If the USCIS official determines the applicant is likely to become a “public charge”, their application is denied.


If the proposed changes to public charge become effective, the impact to families will be devastating!

The proposed rule change aim to discourage the use of benefit programs. They add heavily weighted negative factors to count against applicants during the public charge determination. Under the proposed rule change, the use of non-emergency Medi-Cal, Cal-Fresh and federally funded housing assistance programs would count as a negative factor during the public charge determination.

Click here to view the proposed changes

Click here to view the Public Charge 101 handout.