There are folks who have used a public benefit in the past and are worried that this will affect their possibilities of being able to improve their immigration status. First of all, what does USCIS define as a public charge?
USCIS defines public charge as follows:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Federal supplement income to help blind, disabled and elderly people who have little or no income.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Provides funds to families where the parent(s) or guardian(s) cannot provide for the family’s basic needs.
- State and local assistance programs, also known as General Assistance programs
- Aids individuals who are in need and unable to work due to an incapacity or disability and are not receiving SSI.
- Long Term institutionalization in the following: (and covered by Medicaid)
- Nursing home
- Mental health institution
There is a difference between using public benefits and those that would be categorized as a public charge. For instance, the length of the public benefit usage can influence whether or not it is viewed as a public charge. The length of time passed since the usage of the public benefit lessens the weight that the individual could be seen as a public charge. Additionally, the amount of times that the public benefit was used is also seen as a factor to weigh whether or not the individual is seen as a potential public charge.