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United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Restated its Longstanding Policy Regarding Public Charge

EO Guidance Document #
FNS-GD-2019-0067
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Policy Memo (671.80 KB)
DATE: October 20, 2019
POLICY MEMO: United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Restated its Longstanding Policy Regarding Public Charge
SUBJECT: Letters to Various Directors of Human Services with Attached Public Charge Fact Sheet
TO: Various Directors of Human Services
This webpage will be updated soon to reflect the changes from the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule, scheduled to be effective on Oct. 15, 2019. Please note, this Final Rule makes clear that WIC will not be an enumerated public benefit under 8 CFR 212.21(b).

 

Letters to Various Directors of Human Services

Public charge has been part of U.S. immigration law for more than 100 years as a ground of inadmissibility and deportation. An individual who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a legal permanent resident. However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual a public charge. This fact sheet seeks to inform non-citizens about public charge determinations and help them to make informed choices about whether to apply for certain public benefits.

On Oct. 20, 2009, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) restated its longstanding policy regarding Public Charge. The Immigration and Nationality Act provides that an immigrant who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible to the United States and is ineligible to become a legal permanent resident. USCIS agency guidance has defined public charge to mean an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for assistance. However, receiving public benefit does not automatically make an individual a public charge. USCIS and the Department of State are responsible for making public charge determinations. Attached is the USCIS policy on public charge.

USCIS agency guidance clearly stipulates that certain public benefits are not subject to public charge determinations, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has long supported USCIS' policy on public charge and encourages states administering SNAP benefits to make the policy well known in the immigrant communities in your state.

FNS would also like to express our thanks to you and our state partners for all the work you do to provide SNAP benefits to eligible immigrant households. FNS will continue to be a resource by providing whatever technical assistance or policy support you may need on SNAP policy affecting immigrants and to assist in making the federal policy on public charge widely known and understood to ensure eligible immigrant individuals and families are not dissuaded from applying for program benefits.

Kevin W. Concannon
Under Secretary
Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services

 

Resources
Updated: 08/23/2019

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.