Immigration Status & Public Charge


DHS’s public charge final rule went into effect on December 23, 2022.

Last-reviewed: 10am, Jan. 17, 2023

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • DHS’s public charge final rule goes into effect on December 23, 2022. Non-citizen and mixed-status families can use most public health, nutrition, and housing programs with no adverse impact on their future Green Card applications.
  • The RIAN Center continues to work remotely. Apply for a free legal consultation by calling 617-542-7654.
  • All MA residents over 6 months of age are eligible for the free COVID-19 vaccine booster, regardless of immigration status.

The Breakdown

  • DHS’s public charge final rule went into effect on December 23, 2022. Read the USCIS press release here. Under the rule, DHS will not consider in public charge determinations benefits received by family members other than the applicant. In addition, the benefits on this non-exhaustive list are not considered for public charge:
    • SNAP (food stamps) and WIC
    • MassHealth/Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization)
    • Public housing
    • Section 8
    • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    • Affordable Connectivity Program

Protecting Immigrant Families has updated public charge guidance for advocates here.

USCIS does not consider COVID-19 vaccines and boosters when making public charge determinations. Protecting Immigrant Families has developed a COVID-19 vaccination video for immigrant families to assure them that getting the vaccine will have no immigration status consequences. The video is available in 9 languages here.

  • Everyone living in the United States, regardless of immigration status, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. DHS will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.
  • For more immigration information and updates, visit our Federal Digital Digest.

The Bottom Line

  • Constant changes to immigration law and policies make an uncertain time even more uncertain for immigrant populations. Families with questions about public charge should connect with immigration experts to have their specific questions and needs evaluated.