Public Load: Data Sheet | USCIS

Public Load: Data Sheet | USCIS

Public Load: Data Sheet | USCIS


The term "Public Burden" has been part of the US Immigration Law for more than 100 years as one of the causes of inadmissibility and deportation. An individual who at any time is likely to become a public charge can not be admitted to the United States or become a legal permanent resident. However, the fact that a person receives public benefits does not automatically make it a public charge. This fact sheet is intended to provide information to non-citizens about the criteria that determine the definition of public charge and to help them make conscious decisions about whether or not to apply for certain public benefits.


Under Section 212 (a) (4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an individual seeking admission to the United States or attempting to adjust their status to one legal as the permanent residence (green card), will be admissible if at the moment of requesting entry or adjustment of status, shows that at any time could become a public charge. An individual who is inadmissible will not be granted a permit to enter the United States or an adjustment of status.

Immigration and social welfare laws have raised questions among non-citizens about adverse consequences on their immigration status if they have received federal, state or local public benefits. However, some non-citizens and their families are eligible for public benefits such as disaster relief, communicable disease treatment, and child health programs; immunizations, nutrition and health service programs, without necessarily converting them into a public charge.

Definition of Public Burden

USCIS regulations specify that the term "cash aid" includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash aid to supplement Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) , as well as state and local programs that provide cash assistance to supplement income (often called "general aid." Accepting such cash grants could make a non-citizen non-eligible for citizenship, However, the mere fact of receiving these benefits does not make an individual automatically inadmissible, ineligible for adjustment of status to that of legal or deportable permanent resident on a public charge basis. Deportation in Inadmissibility on Public Cargo Bases, "64 FR 28689 (May 26, 1999) Each determination is made individually in the context of the totality of circ In addition, public assistance such as Medicaid benefits, which are used to help foreigners residing in a long-term care facility - such as a nursing home or mental health facility.

- can also be considered as public charging criteria at the time of the full analysis of the circumstances. Short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation reasons is not considered a public charge.

Benefits that are not subject to Public Load:

Some of these programs may provide cash benefits, such as assistance in paying for energy services, transportation or child care offered at TANF or under the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and one-time emergency under TANF. This is because the purpose of these cash payments is not to maintain income, but rather to avoid the need for permanent support to maintain income, which is subject to public charging.

Note: Generally, US citizenship can not be denied to legal permanent residents who hold a Green Card just because they are legally receiving any public benefit to which they are eligible.

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