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What you need to know about the new public charge rule

UPDATE:

A final public charge rule was published in August by the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however federal judges in three states issued injunctions temporarily blocking the public charge rule. Public Charge regulations will not go into effect Oct. 15, 2019.

Here are some key points about the policy.

What is the new public charge rule?

The federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued new rules that allows the government to deny an individual's application for entry into the U.S. or deny an application to change their immigration status if they use public benefits, including Medicaid.

  • The rule defines a “public charge” as an immigrant who uses public benefits or relies on the government for financial support. Though it was scheduled to become effective Oct. 15, 2019, a legal challenge has stopped the rule from becoming effective until a judgment is made.
  • Individuals can be considered a public charge if they currently use public benefits or are likely to use them in the future. The determinations are based on education and income levels, among other factors.

The new rule expands the public benefits that DHS considers in public charge determinations to include:

  • Medicaid, except for anyone under age 21 and pregnant women
  • Food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP
  • Temporary cash assistance
  • Section 8 housing assistance and certain other forms of subsidized housing

Other public benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Public Assistance for Long-term Care in an institution, will continue to be used in public charge determinations.

Who does this rule apply to?

  • Individuals seeking admission into the U.S.
  • Individuals seeking to adjust their status to become a lawful permanent resident or green card holder from within the U.S.
  • Individuals within the U.S. who hold a nonimmigrant visa and seek to extend their stay in the same classification or change their status to a different nonimmigrant classification.

Who is considered a “public charge?”

A public charge is an immigrant who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months aggregate total within a 36-month period. For example, if a person receives two benefits in one month, that is considered two months of public benefits. The way these benefits are counted is determined by an effective date to be decided by the court. We recommend you speak to an immigration expert to understand your situation.

Who are the exceptions to the rule?

  • It is very important to know there are exceptions to this rule, especially when it comes to health insurance. The new rule will NOT apply to:
  • Those who have used benefits in the past; only to those who receive benefits after the date determined by the court.
  • Those who have used benefits in the past; only to those who receive benefits after Oct. 15, 2019.
  • Medicaid recipients under age 21.
  • Medicaid recipients who are pregnant and up to 60 days postpartum.
  • Children who receive coverage through the Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP).
  • People who receive a private health plan through Maryland Health Connection including those who get Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTC) to help pay for their plan.
  • Humanitarian programs for refugees and asylum recipients, or petitioners under VAWA (Violence against Women Act).
  • Recipients of emergency medical services or disaster relief funds.
  • Applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
  • Immigrants who have already obtained Lawful Permanent Resident status (green card holders)

Are lawful permanent residents who have met the five-year bar and are now eligible for Medicaid subject to the public charge?

In most cases, a lawful permanent resident or green card holder who has been in the U.S. for five or more years (five-year bar) can receive Medicaid benefits without having those benefits considered in a public charge determination. However, in some cases a lawful permanent resident may be subject to the public charge upon their return to the U.S. after extended travel abroad because they might then be viewed as an applicant for admission to the U.S.

What if some family members receive public benefits and others do not?

If you are applying to change your immigration status, only the public benefits that you receive for yourself count. For example, if your children receive Medicaid, MCHP or food stamps, it will not count against you. If you have questions about your specific family situation, you should speak to an immigration expert.

Disclaimer

This material is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

Resources for Immigration Legal Services

Organization Location & Phone Number Website & Email Address
CASA (Multicultural Center) 8151 15th Ave.
Langley Park, MD 20783
(301) 431-4185
*Additional locations in Baltimore, Silver Spring & Hyattsville
WeAreCasa.org

info@wearecasa.org

Catholic Charities of Baltimore 430 S. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
(410) 534-8015
CatholicCharities-MD.org/immigrants
Catholic Charities of Washington D.C. 201 E. Diamond Ave., 3rd Floor Gaithersburg, MD 20877
(301) 740-252312247 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20902
(301) 942-1790
CatholicCharitiesDC.org

Communications@CatholicCharitiesDC.org

Catholic Charities of Wilmington (Eastern Shore Office) 30632 Hampden Ave.
Princess Anne, MD 21853
(410) 651-9608
CDOW.org/immigration

immigration@ccwilm.org

Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center 20 Bay St.
Easton, MD 21601
(443) 786-1120
ChesMRC.org

mateo@chesmrc.org

Foreign-born Information and Referral Network, Inc. 5999 Harpers Farm Road
Suite E-200
Columbia, MD 21044
(410) 992-1923
FirnOnline.org

info@firnonline.org

HIAS Global Headquarters 1300 Spring St., Suite 500
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 844-7248
Hias.org

legalhelp@hias.org

International Rescue Committee (Silver Spring Office) 8719 Colesville Road,
3rd Floor Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 562-8633 Ext. 236
Rescue.org

silverspring@rescue.org

International Rescue Committee (Baltimore Office) 1900 N Howard St., Suite 200 Baltimore, MD 21218
(410) 327-1885 Ext. 260
Rescue.org

laura.brown@rescue.org

Justice For Our Neighbors (Monthly Legal Clinic) (240) 825-44243405 Gough St.
Baltimore, MD 212249008 Rosemont Drive Gaithersburg, MD 208776201 Belcrest Road, #207
Hyattsville, MD 20782
DCMDJFON.org

contact@dcmdjfon.org

Kids in Need of Defense 1800 N. Charles St.,
Suite 810 The Walbert Building
Baltimore, MD 21201
(443) 470-9437
SupportKind.org

infobaltimore@supportkind.org

Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault P.O. Box 8782
Silver Spring, MD 20907
(301) 565-2277
MCasa.org
Mid Shore Pro Bono 8 S. West St.
Easton, MD 21601
(410) 690-8128
MidShoreProBono.org

info@midshoreprobono.org

Sexual Assault/ Spouse Abuse Resource Center P.O. Box 1207
Bel Air, MD 21014
(410) 836-8430
Sarc-Maryland.org/about
Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland, Inc. 8519 Piney Branch Road
Silver Spring, MD 20901
(301) 587-7217
SpanishCommunityofMD.org

info@spanishcommunityofmd.org

Tahirih Justice Center
(Baltimore Office)
201 N Charles St., Suite 920 Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 999-1900
Tahirih.org

baltimore@tahirih.org

Women's Law Center of Maryland - Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project 111 N. Calvert St., Room 100 Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 396-3294
WLCMD.org/projects

admin@wlcmd.org