Final Public Charge Rule: WIC is NOT a Part of Public Charge

Final Public Charge Rule

Issued: August 12, 2019

Effective: October 15, 2019

A ‘public charge’ test is used by the federal government when:

  • A person applies to enter the U.S.
  • A person applies to adjust their status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (get a green card).
  • A green card holder leaves the U.S. for more than 180 days and then reenters the U.S.

Under the rule change, there is a new definition of ‘public charge’ that makes it more difficult for some people to pass the test, and some additional public benefits will be considered as part of this test.

The final public charge rule was published by the federal government on August 12, 2019, that expands the definition of ‘public charge’. The new rule will become effective on October 15, 2019.

  • WIC is NOT included in the final rule. This means that the rule does NOT include WIC participation in the expanded public charge test.
  • The rule states that benefits received by U.S. citizen children will NOT directly affect their parent’s public charge determination. Please seek legal advice if you have questions, as each case is different.
  • The final rule is NOT retroactive. That means that the newly added public charge programs will only be considered if they were received AFTER the rule goes into effect on October 15, 2019.
  • Not all immigrants are affected by the public charge rule change. Some groups that are exempt from the public charge test include green card holders applying for citizenship, refugees, asylees, survivors of domestic violence, trafficking or other serious crimes, and several other groups. There is no public charge test during a naturalization process.
  • Every immigration case is different and families should talk to legal experts. See the list below for no-cost legal resources in your area.

Agencies offering free or low-cost Family-based immigration or legal status screening

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