Community Resources

Changes to Public Charge as of April 2021 

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services issued this interagency letter, asking other federal agencies to help spread the word that the Trump public charge regulations are no longer in effect. The letter provides information about the longstanding 1999 public charge guidance that has been reinstated, including public benefits not considered in a public charge inadmissibility determination: Medicaid (except for Medicaid for long-term institutionalization), public housing, or SNAP benefits. It also notes that medical treatment or preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccinations, will not be considered for public charge purposes. The letter encourages immigrants to access benefits, saying that “It is critical that immigrants and their families, many of whom are essential workers, are able to access necessary government services for which they may be eligible to keep their families safe and healthy”.

Public charge is a term used within immigration law to denote someone who is, or is likely to become, primarily reliant upon government benefits and assistance programs for survival. The test is used in applications for lawful permanent residency (green cards) or admission to the United States – including diversity visa applications and applications to renew, change or extend visas. It is not used in processing applications for U.S. citizenship or naturalization. Depending on the “totality of circumstances” of the individual, a public charge determination could result in a denied immigration application, denied re-entry into the U.S., or deportation from the country.

Any benefits not specifically listed in the rule will continue to be excluded from the public charge test. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Child care and development
  • Disaster relief
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Employment and job-training
  • Federal student financial aid
  • Food banks
  • Head Start
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy
  • National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
  • Pell Grants
  • Benefits received by immigrant’s family members
  • Any other benefit not specifically listed in the rule

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 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

Center for Children with Special Needs
An information source for families and professionals. Focused on children and youth with special health needs who have physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions. 

Department of Health Early Hearing Loss publications
Department of Health publications about early hearing loss for families.

Family to Family Health Information Center
Working to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities.

Parent to Parent Network 
The Parent to Parent network provides emotional support and information to families raising children with special health and developmental needs across Washington State.

Washington Hands and Voices
Supporting families with children who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing by providing families with resources, networks, and information needed to improve communication and educational outcomes for their children.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange
As part of national health care reform, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange created Washington Healthplanfinder, an online marketplace for individuals, families and small businesses in Washington to compare and enroll in quality health insurance plans and access important cost savings.

Washington Partnerships for Action Voices for Empowerment (PAVE)
Information and resources with people whose lives are linked to children and adults with disabilities.

Washington State Fathers Network
Support and information for fathers and families of children with special needs.

Zero to Three
Provides information, training, and support for professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.