Date Updated: September 29, 2022

Protecting Immigrant Families

The following resources are from the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign.

The ABCs of Public Charge

This new resource, aimed at advocates and service providers, presents a simple overview of public charge as it is currently enforced, based on the 1999 field guidance. Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) encourages advocates and providers to disseminate this document with partners and networks to share an updated understanding of what public charge is and is not.

Public Charge Word Cloud
Image by (cc license)

Updated & Translated Community Education Resources 

The PIF team has updated their community education resources to reflect the 1999 guidance.  These resources are critical to making sure that immigrants and their families are equipped with the most up-to-date and helpful information to help them make the best decisions for themselves. These resources have also been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese. These resources and their translations can be found on our Know Your Rights page on our website. 

Harm of Public Charge during the COVID-19 Pandemic

PIF has a fact sheet documenting the harm of public charge policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research featured in the fact sheet details how the former Trump-era public charge regulations contribute to immigrant families’ fear to seek public benefits, amplify the COVID-19 pandemic’s health and economic harm, and undermine vaccination efforts. This research strongly supports swift rulemaking — to cement and clarify the policy details — as well as accompanying outreach efforts by the Biden administration to make clear that it is safe for immigrant families to access health care, nutrition, housing, and other economic support programs

FAQs on Public Charge Policy

PIF has a new resource capturing answers to frequently asked questions from advocates and providers about public charge policy changes from the 2019 regulations to the longstanding policy in effect before the Trump-era regulations. If you have a question that is not answered in the FAQ document, please use this form to submit a question. Please note that PIF is only accepting questions from advocates and service providers and cannot answer questions about individual situations or cases.

DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance

February 2, 2021: As part of an Executive Order to remove barriers to the legal immigration system, President Biden directed an immediate review of the Trump-era public charge regulations. The Executive Order means that the administrative process of reversing Trump’s public charge regulations has now begun. It is anticipated that federal agencies will soon take action leading to reversal of the regulations. See also Protecting Immigrant Families’ statement on the issuance of the Executive Order and their updated family-facing messages, as well as a quick reference guide on immigrant eligibility of federal public programs during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The following is a statement from the WA DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance:

The State of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services understands that the federal Department of Homeland Security has published final rules that could apply to people who receive specified public benefits. We have reviewed the rules and want to provide accurate, reliable information for individuals and families who may be impacted by changing policies. Here is what we know:

  • Programs and services administered by the State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services will remain in place and are accessible to people who are eligible.
  • DSHS continues to protect the confidentiality of clients’ personal information and does not share this information unless required by state or federal law.  
  • The changes may impact certain people applying for lawful permanent residency (green cards) or admission to the United States – including diversity visa immigrants and applications to renew, change or extend visas in the United States.  
  • The rule does not impact lawful permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship or naturalization. 
  • This new rule does not apply to all immigrants. It does not apply to people who are refugees and asylees, Amerasian immigrants, Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Holders, Cuban/ Haitian Entrants, humanitarian parolees, victims of human trafficking (T- Visa), victims of criminal activity (U-Visa), Special Immigrant Juveniles or VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioners. 
  • Previously, officials would only count a client’s use of cash assistance or long-term medical institutionalization when considering their immigration application. The changes will add certain federal health care, nutrition and housing benefits. 
  • The rule will not apply retroactively to benefits that were received before the rule’s effective date. These additional federal benefits will only be considered if a person applied for, was certified for or received benefits after the rule becomes effective. Currently, the rule is expected to become effective October 15, 2019.
  • The changes will not apply to all types of federal benefits. For a list of benefits that are included or excluded, see the Frequently Asked Questions. NO changes are being made to state benefits, although state and local cash assistance will continue to be considered. 
  • It does not count the use of benefits by a person’s family members. The use of benefits by children or other household members will not be counted against an individual applying for lawful permanent residency (green card) or admission to the United States. 

Individuals and families who have questions or concerns about the impact of using public benefits on their immigration status should contact an immigration attorney. Resources may be available through one of the organizations listed on the Washington Governor’s website. Additionally, you may contact one of the following organizations for help: 

  • CLEAR Hotline: 1-888-201-1014 
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP): 
    • NWIRP Seattle Office: 206-587-4009
    • NWIRP Yakima Valley (Granger) Office: 509-854-2100
    • NWIRP Wenatchee Office: 509-570-0054

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Assistance and Public Charge FAQ for Immigrants – City of Seattle (7 languages) This is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) information guide for immigrants who want to know more about how the issue of public charge might affect their ability to access healthcare and other services during this COVID-19 outbreak. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs will continue updating this site as developments occur.

Local Resources as compiled by Protecting Immigrant Families – Washington:

National Resources as compiled by Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign – Know Your Rights: