Public Charge & Immigration

August 14, 2019: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published its Final Rule on Public Charge on the Federal Register, which will take effect within 60 days, on October 15, 2019.

Contra Costa County Employment & Human Services (EHSD) is carefully reviewing the content of the Final Rule publication and we will provide more detailed information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, there are no changes to our County’s processes, rules, or eligibility standards pertaining to immigration. However, we understand that members of immigrant communities may have concerns, and we encourage them to consult reliable sources, such as trained immigration attorneys, to discuss their specific situations.

Immigration And “Public Charge” Rule Changes

The Final Rule expands the types of benefits that may be considered for “public charge,” affecting programs that help struggling, low-income individuals feed their families and themselves, stay healthy, and ultimately become self-sufficient. For the first time, use of non-cash programs such as Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, known as CalFresh in California) and housing assistance could be taken into account when decisions are made about entry into the country and adjustment of immigration status.

This public charge determination, indicating a person may be likely to become dependent on the government for subsistence, could be used as grounds to reject a legal immigrant’s application to keep his/her legal status to stay in the U.S. or to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (obtain a green card), overturning a century of existing policy and practice.

*Benefits that do NOT fall under DHS’ proposed rule changes include public education (including Head Start), national school lunch programs, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and Veterans benefits.

Note: Public charge does not apply to some categories of immigrants, such as refugees, persons granted asylum and certified trafficking victims. Also, there is no public charge test when a legal permanent resident applies for naturalized citizenship.

What You Can Do

Learn more about the new Public Charge rule.
You may also visit the California Department of Social Services.
In addition, we will update this page as more information is available.

Concerned organizations and community members can contact their local representatives at any time.

Contra Costa County Supervisors Comment on Public Charge

Board of Supervisors Response to Proposed Rulemaking: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds (December 7, 2018)


If you need legal guidance related to immigration, we encourage you to seek guidance from a reputable immigration service provider or an attorney. Below is a partial list** of resources that may be helpful.

Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

Bay Area Legal Aid

Catholic Charities

Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Immigration Advocates

Stand Together Contra Costa

** Inclusion of an organization does not imply endorsement of its services, nor does exclusion reflect on any agency’s contribution to the community.