What's a Public Charge? Will getting help from the Goverment and food stamps or medicare cause me problems with immigration?


The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) released a fact sheet clarifying the issue of what benefits can make one a public charge. 

Accepting the following can lead to a public charge determination (determined on a case by case basis):

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
  • State or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance (general assistance programs)

Others that do not lead to a negative determination:

  • Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases, use of health clinics, short-term rehabilitation services, prenatal care and emergency medical services) other than support for long-term institutional care
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) commonly referred to as Food Stamps
  • -he Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs
  • Housing benefits
  • Child care services
  • Energy assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program(LIHEAP)    
  • Emergency disaster relief    
  • Foster care and adoption assistance    
  • Educational assistance (such as attending public school), including benefits under theHead Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary or higher education    
  • Job training programs
  • In-kind, community-based programs, services or assistance (such as soup kitchens,    
  • crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter)
  • Non-cash benefits under TANF such as subsidized child care or transit subsidies
  • Cash payments that have been earned, such as Title II Social Security benefits,government pensions, and veterans' benefits, and other forms of earned benefits
  • Unemployment compensation

Ricky Malik, Esq.

Law Offices of Ricky Malik