Public Charge Information

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Update Sept. 9, 2022: 

On Sept. 8, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule that will implement the public charge ground of inadmissibility.  The final rule will go into effect on Dec. 23, 2022.  DSHS will be reviewing the final rule and providing additional information on this website. Here are a few key takeaways and reminders:

  • USCIS will not consider the receipt of Medicaid, public housing, or food assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits as part of the public charge rule.
  • The rule will exempt individuals granted refugee benefits by Congress from consideration of receipt of public benefits even when they are not admitted into the United States as refugees.  This includes Afghan humanitarian parolees and Ukrainian humanitarian parolees. 
  • The final rule will go into effect on Dec. 23, 2023.

Changes to immigration rules on public benefit use

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has reviewed the rules and wants to provide accurate, reliable information for individuals and families who may be impacted by changing policies.

Here is what we know:

  • Families should feel comfortable continuing to use benefits they are eligible for that are not implicated under the proposed new rule.
    • The public charge rule will consider cash assistance programs and long-term medical institutionalization.
    • The public charge rule will not consider any other federal or state benefits. That includes SNAP, WIC, CHIP, school lunches, Medicaid, Section 8 housing benefits, food banks, shelters, COVID-related medical care, and many more.
    • No changes are being made to non-cash state and local benefits.
  • DSHS continues to protect the confidentiality of clients’ personal information and does not share this information unless required by state or federal law.
  • Public charge does not apply to all immigrants. Every family is different and people should make the right choice for them and their families, based on their specific situation.
  • The rule does not impact lawful permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship or naturalization.
  • This new rule does not apply to people who are refugees and asylees, Amerasian immigrants, Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Holders, Cuban/Haitian Entrants, humanitarian parolees, victims of human trafficking (T- Visa), victims of criminal activity (U-Visa), Special Immigrant Juveniles or VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners.
  • It may impact those applying for lawful permanent residency (“green cards”) or admission to the United States — including diversity visa immigrants and applications to renew, change or extend visas in the United States.

People with questions or concerns about the impact of using public benefits on their immigration status should contact an immigration attorney.

Additionally, you may contact one of the following organizations for help:

  • ​CLEAR Hotline: 1-888-201-1014
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP):
    • NWIRP Seattle Office: 206-587-4009
    • NWIRP Yakima Valley (Granger) Office: 509-854-2100
    • NWIRP Wenatchee Office: 509-570-0054