Current Immigration Rules and Public Benefits (Public Charge)
We are still waiting on the federal government to finalize changes to the public charge rule, which may affect current and future immigrants who use public benefits.
Use the interactive tool below to see if you should talk to a lawyer before applying for public benefits.
Do you have a status listed below?
• Refugee or asylee
• Special immigrant juvenile
• U or T Visa (visas for victims of crimes)
• Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) approved self-petition
• Relief under Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), the Nicaraguan
and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) or the Haitian
Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA)
• Afghan and Iraqi employees of US armed forces
Do I need to talk to a lawyer?
I or someone in my family will have to use a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. (consular processing) to:
• Apply for a green card
• Sponsor or co-sponsor an immigrant to get their green card
• Apply for entry to the U.S.
I don’t have a green card but get one or more of these:
• Medicaid Long-Term Care program, which pays for
assisted living or a nursing home
• Cash benefits from W2 (welfare) or SSI
• Someone in my household gets W2 or SSI cash benefits,
and it’s the only income for the household
I have a green card and I plan to travel outside the U.S. for
more than 6 months
What is public charge?
Public charge is someone who is likely to become dependent on the government for basic needs, specifically if they are receiving certain public benefits.
If someone is considered a public charge by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or U.S. Department of State, this can impact their future eligibility to:
• Gain a visa to enter the U.S.
• Gain permanent residency (a “green card”)
Screening Tool and Legal Resource PDF
Click on the link to download or print a screening tool to determine if an immigrant needs to talk to a lawyer before getting public benefits.
Spanish and Hmong translations coming soon!
Free Legal Services. Call to see if you qualify.
Immigration and Public Benefits Webinar
Who we are:
The Wisconsin Collaboration on Immigrants and Public Benefits came together in February 2019 to discuss the troubling, rising level of fear among their immigrant clientele. Our aim is to develop and circulate information to dispel myths, reduce confusion, and promote the safety and value of accessing supportive, means-tested benefits for those who are eligible.
This stakeholder group continues to grow and consists of public immigration lawyers and paralegals from Legal Action Wisconsin and End Domestic Abuse, and professionals from community-based and non-profit organizations such as Wisconsin Primary Healthcare Association, Covering Wisconsin, community health centers, and community agencies who provide direct services to immigrant populations. Each agency and representative comes to the table with a unique perspective of working with immigrant clientele while also sharing a recognition of the multiple barriers this community faces in achieving physical, mental, and financial well-being.
Updated May 30th, 2019