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Public Charge in the Post-Trump Era

Since President Biden’s inauguration, the administration has been hard at work getting the immigration system back on track. Many Trump-era programs and restrictions are on the chopping block, including public charge. Here’s what you should know.

Public Charge Defined

Public charge is considered a factor for inadmissibility. Immigrants who are under public charge depend on financial support from government programs and benefits. Not all immigrants start off needing government assistance, but they may need it later on, and depending on the type and amount of benefits they need to survive, they could fall under public charge.


If an immigrant is inadmissible, they are excluded from immigration benefits, citizenship, and entry into the United States. The immigration system does not allow anyone to be inadmissible for a single reason – their circumstances must meet several grounds of inadmissibility.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluates the following factors:

  • Age
  • Family Status
  • The expected period of admission
  • Health
  • Education and skills
  • Prospective immigration status
  • Assets, property, resources, and finances

Inadmissibility is the combination of any of the circumstances listed above. The USCIS will NOT make an immigrant inadmissible because of a single factor. That means that an immigration officer cannot exclude someone for being under public charge – they would need to meet additional criteria for inadmissibility.

Public Charge Programs

The Department of Homeland Security recognizes the following government assistance programs as qualifiers for public charge.

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Federal, state, local, or tribal cash benefit programs

It’s important to note that the DHS expanded public charge to include Medicaid, federal housing, and supplemental nutrition under President Trump. Now, Presiden Biden is working hard to roll back some of the extreme terms of the public charge policy.

Biden’s Efforts

Public charge is still an active policy under President Biden, but it has been revised. The inclusion of Medicaid and federal housing has been rolled back. The President has requested a full scale investigation into the immigration system to identify discriminatory policies.

Many are disappointed at the slow pace of these changes and the apparent lack of effort on Biden’s part. However, there’s much more to dismantling policy than meets the eye. To make change happen, the President must submit to rulings from the Supreme Court and votes from Congress.

At this time, both the Court and Congressional houses are pushing back against change – particularly immigration reforms. There’s a lot of work to do, but nonprofit and grassroots organizations are fighting for change locally.

If you are facing challenges to your immigration status, contact Lim Law, P.A.