DHS posted online the New Public Charge definition which may disqualify many immigrants for green card

By Atty. Crispin Caday Lozano

Q. What is the new definition of public charge?

A. In the proposed regulations, a “public charge” will be defined as an immigrant who receives any public benefits at all, even if they are not primarily dependent on benefits. These non-cash benefits will now include:

  • Benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
  • Section 8 housing assistance or rental assistance.
  • Medicaid benefits (except for emergency Medicaid or certain school or disability-based benefits for children).
  • Premium and cost-sharing subsidies under Medicare Part D.
  • Subsidized housing under Housing Act of 1937.

Q. What is the current procedure before the new definition of public charge?

A. Immigrants can currently avoid being deemed a public charge if their sponsor—often a family member with U.S. citizenship or a green card—submits an “affidavit of support” agreeing to financially support them.

Q. Under the proposed regulations, will an affidavit of support from relatives prevent a public charge classification?

A. The proposed regulations would no longer automatically prevent an immigrant with such a sponsor from being declared a public charge.

The newly posted regulations do allow for some limited, temporary benefit usage. The government will only label an immigrant a public charge if they use an amount of benefits that goes above a specific threshold. However, the threshold level of benefits is quite low.

Q. Will there be a time period allowed for immigrants to avoid being a public charge?

A. The proposed rule will not penalize immigrants for benefits taken before a final regulation goes into effect, and even then only benefits taken 60 days after a final rule is published will count against the immigrant.

Q. How will the new public charge definition affect the community?

A. DHS admits that many U.S. citizens will be affected by the rule because immigrant families will no longer take advantage of benefits. The agency’s list of negative effects includes “worse health outcomes … especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, or children,” as well as “increased use of emergency rooms,” “increased prevalence of communicable diseases,” “increased rates of poverty and housing instability; and reduced productivity and educational attainment.” In fact, even before the regulations have gone into effect, health providers report that fear among immigrant parents has already caused many to forego nutritional benefits for their U.S.-born children.

Q. Are all intending immigrants covered by the new public charge rule?

A. The public charge rules do not apply to asylum seekers, refugees, children receiving Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, individuals who are the beneficiaries of visas for crime victims or victims of domestic violence, and multiple other special visa categories that Congress has exempted from the public charge determination.

Q. When is the effective date of the new public charge rule?

A. DHS has posted online a draft of the proposed regulation for the public to view, it has not yet formally published the rule in the Federal Register. Once that happens, the public will have 60 days to provide comments. The agency will then be required to review those comments and will only issue a final rule after that process is complete.

Note:   This is not a legal advice. 


  1. For the month of October 2018, we received four approvals of N-400 and one approval for adjustment of status.
  2. On September 19, 2018, we received an approval of N-400 naturalization application and one Fiancée visa petition..
  3. For the month of August 2018, we received an approval of four Naturalization applications and five adjustment of status applications.
  4. On July 27, 2018, we received an approval for permanent resident for a client who was abused by her spouse under VAWA.
  5. For the months of May to June 2018, we have received four Naturalization applications approvals and two Adjustment of Status approvals
  6. On April 18, 2018, we received a grant of waiver from Immigration Court for a husband and wife client who made a misrepresentation of their  marital status but has no criminal records, has long residence and strong family ties in the U.S.
  7. On April 12, 2018, the Immigration Judge in San Francisco approved a waiver of misrepresentation in applying for a visa for our client who has been in the            U.S. for 26 years, no criminal record and strong family ties in the U.S.
  8. On April 3, 2018, we received an approval from USCIS for a U visa for a client who was a victim of crime.
  9. For the month ending March 31, 2018, we received approvals for four naturalization applications.
  10. For the week ending March 31, 2018, we received approvals of six Adjustment of Status, two Application to Remove Condition on Residence and two Renewal of Green Card approvals.
  11. On March 9, 2018, we received an approval from USCIS for adjustment of status for a client who was abused by her spouse. The I-601 waiver was approved based on extreme hardship.
  12. On February 15, 2018, we received a grant from Immigration Judge for a waiver of misrepresentation for a client who has been in the U.S. for long period of time.

If you have immigration problems the Law Offices of Crispin C. Lozano can help you find a solution before your problem  gets worse which could lead to deportation and family separation.

Crispin Caday Lozano, Esq. is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers.  His contact phone is 1-877-456-9266, email: info@ccllaw.net

Toll Free 1-877-4LOZANO for free consultation or Schedule an Appointment