Public Charge Information

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Update February 24, 2022: 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that 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. Additionally, USCIS does not consider COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccines, or public benefits specifically related to the coronavirus pandemic. Only past and current receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance for income maintenance, long-term institutionalization, and other state and local cash assistance for income maintenance may be considered to determine government dependence.

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. 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