Public Charge FAQ

We promote healthy, safe and stable lives, for all in Solano

In Solano County, we know that collaboration among all our community members is necessary to achieve solidarity. When people don't feel safe to go to the doctor or get public benefits, we aren't able to thrive individually or collectively. We want everyone who lives here to maintain their health and take care of each other by continuing to seek the care and support their needs. Solano County Health & Social Services Department will always be here for our community and remains committed to providing excellent services with respect and dignity for all.

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This page was last updated on August 16, 2019.

What is Public Charge?

The "public charge test" is used by immigration officials to decide whether a person can enter the US or get a green card. The test is used to determine whether an immigrant will be dependent on the government. Receiving government benefits is just one of a variety of factors used for immigration decisions.

Public Charge Rule Change Effective October 15, 2019

DHS has revised the definition of "public charge" to mean an individual who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period, such that receiving two benefits in one month counts as two months.

Immigration officials will also look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:

  • Cash assistance programs (SSI, CalWORKS and TANF);
  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, EBT or Food Stamps);
  • Most forms of Medi-Cal (except for emergency services, children under 21 years old, pregnant women and new mothers); and
  • Public Housing and Section 8 Assistance.

The rule change has been published this week at the Federal Register at and will become effective on October 15th, 2019.

The following are exempt from public charge, even when they apply for their green card:

  • Refugees, Asylees, T visa holders, U visa holders, VAWA recipients and self-petitioners, Temporary Protected Status recipients, Special Immigrant Juveniles.
  • Immigrants who already have their green card.
  • Immigrants who don't currently have a pathway to obtain legal documentation cannot take the public charge test.
  • Children of immigrants.

What You Need to Know:

  • The rule is not considered if you already have a green card and are applying to become a naturalized US citizen.
  • The Public Charge rule DOES NOT INCLUDE WIC, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), school lunches, food banks, shelters, and other programs.
  • The rule is not retroactive.
  • Use of public benefits by your US citizen children and other family members will not be used against you.
  • Every situation is different. Please consult an immigration legal services agency or attorney if you have questions about your own case.

Solano County H&SS will provide more detailed information as it becomes available.
Please Note: Eligibility for any of these public benefits programs has not changed.