MAY 3, 2021 UPDATE: The Trump-era public charge rule is permanently gone! The Department of Homeland Security is using the previous public charge rule from 1999 for green card applications. Please access the health care, nutrition services, and other programs you and your family need.
Remember: It is safe and smart to see the doctor if you need care. You can still access health care without insurance, including COVID-19 vaccines. Doing so will not impact public charge or your immigration status.
About public charge
“Public charge” is a test used by immigration officials to determine if an individual is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support in the future. An individual can be denied a visa or lawful permanent residency (a “green card”) if they do not “pass” the public charge test. The only public benefits that count in a public charge test are cash assistance to live on (such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families/TANF) or government-paid long-term care. Any other benefit and program is safe to use and will not count for public charge.
Many groups of immigrants, including refugees, asylum seekers, and many humanitarian visa holders, are exempt from this policy.
For more information
Visit the Know Your Rights page from Protecting Immigrant Families, which has many resources in multiple languages. They can help you figure out if public charge affects you or your family.
Free resources and legal advice
If you have questions about your individual situation or the use of specific public benefits and programs, you should speak with an immigration attorney or Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited representative. Following are free resources:
- Click here for City of Seattle FAQ (Updated March 2020)
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program (Eastside residents only): 425-747-7274
- Click here for Seattle-King County Immigrant Legal Defense Network
- Asian Counseling & Referral Service: 206-695-7600
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: 206-816-3870
- West African Community Council: 206-636-9882
- Entre Hermanos (focus on LGBTQ individuals): 206-322-7700
- Northwest Justice Project CLEAR Hotline
- Inside of King County, weekdays 8am-6pm: 2-1-1
- Outside of King County, weekdays between 9:15am-12:15pm: 1-888-201-1014
- Seniors age 60+ statewide: 1-888-387-7111