Public Charge

*Updated January 27, 2021*

The information on this page does not, and is not intended to, constitute as legal advice. Instead, all content below is provided for general informational purposes only.


Current Status of the "Public Charge" Issue for Immigrants

President Biden has announced his intention to reverse Trump's public charge rule.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security public charge rule is in effect in Washington State and can be implemented by immigration officials while several lawsuits against the rule continue.

Regarding the Department of State's public charge policy, as of July 29, 2020, a federal court has blocked implementation of the new public charge rules at U.S. consulates abroad. This means that a nationwide injunction against the Department of State's implementation of its own public charge policy still remains in effect. 

Many advocates recommend that families should continue to use the services for which they are eligible for. However, each immigration situation is unique.

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) recommends that if you are uncertain about your status or a family member's status and/or use of benefits, you should speak with an immigration attorney or Department of Justice (DOJ)-accredited representative. You may be able to find a lawyer through the American Immigration Lawyers Association here. You can find the nearest DOJ-accredited organization here.

You can find the City of Seattle's 2018 public comment against the proposed public charge rule here.


Public Charge Information for Immigrants

Under both the new rule and the old rule, any local City of Seattle program such as the Utility Discount Program and Seattle Preschool Program will not be considered.

Go here to see the many Seattle programs that immigrants may be eligible for, regardless of their immigration status and regardless of the public charge rule.


Quick Reference Guide for Public Benefits Eligibility and Public Charge Impacts for Immigrants

COVID-19 Eligibility and Public Charge Guide for Immigrants

The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs created this spreadsheet in collaboration with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and Northwest Health Law Advocates (NOHLA). The information in this guide is intended to act as an accessible general reference for someone to quickly determine if an immigrant of a specific status is eligible for a specific program or public benefit and/or if there is a public charge impact. This guide is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified legal service provider. This guide does not, and is not intended to, constitute as legal advice. Instead, this content is provided for general informational purposes only.

Regarding specific eligibility, we continue to encourage individuals with questions about their situation to access a qualified legal service provider to assess immigration rules and their specific situations.