Public Charge & Immigration

Immigration and Proposed “Public Charge” Rule Changes

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to more broadly factor eligible immigrants’ use of public benefit programs into decisions related to these individuals changing their visa status or obtaining Lawful Permanent Status (LPR) or “green cards.” For the first time, use of non-cash programs* such as CalFresh, non-emergency Medi-Cal, and housing assistance could be used as grounds to reject an immigrant’s application to keep his/her legal status to stay in the U.S. or to become a lawful permanent resident, overturning a century of existing policy and practice.

DHS officially published its proposal “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” in the Federal Register on October 10, 2018. This set off a 60-day public comment period which ended on December 10th, 2018. DHS will review the feedback and possibly make revisions before issuing a final rule.

*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.

More Information

To learn more about how the proposed rule changes may affect Contra Costa County, click on the tools below for background.

Public Charge Video





What You Can Do

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


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.