Public Charge Information

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Update April 12, 2021: 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the agency is no longer applying the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule. The agency will apply public charge inadmissibility consistent with guidelines from 1999. 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.

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. For detailed information about the public charge policy, please refer to the frequently asked questions document.

Here is what we know:

  • Families should feel comfortable continuing to use benefits they are eligible for that are not implicated under the 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 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.
  • The rule will apply to applications for adjustments of status, extensions of stay or permanent residency that USCIS reviews on or after March 9, 2021, regardless of when the application package was received.

    People with questions or concerns about the impact of using public benefits on their immigration status should contact an immigration attorney. Resources may be available through one of the organizations listed on the Governor’s website. 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