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Know the Facts about "Public Charge"

Authored By: Oregon Law Center, et al
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Public Charge and the COVID-19 Emergency

On January 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court said that the federal government’s new Public Charge rule is no longer “blocked”, and can go into effect while the lawsuits challenging the new rule work their way through the courts.

*Update: Although lawsuits are still challenging the new Public Charge Rule, as of September 11, 2020, the new Public Charge Rule is in effect throughout the entire U.S. 

Public Charge and the COVID-19 Emergency

Medical Care and Public Charge:

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, the federal Department of Homeland Security and USCIS clearly stated that testing, treatment, and preventive care related to COVID 19 will not be considered as part of the public charge determination, no matter how that that testing or treatment is paid for.   

The Oregon Health Plan, including Cover all Kids and CAWEM-Plus Pregnancy coverage fully cover COVID-19 testing and treatment.  Emergency Medicaid in Oregon (CAWEM, available to low income, non pregnant adults in Oregon who don't qualify for OHP for immigration reasons) fully covers COVID-19 testing in the emergency room, and then covers COVID-19 treatment.   Treatment paid for by any of these programs will not count in a public charge test.

Unemployment Insurance, Economic Stimulus Payments, and Public Charge:

Unemployment insurance is not considered a public benefit and is never factored in to a Public Charge test.

The new Corona Virus stimulus payments do not count in a Public Charge test.  The Stimulus payment is considered a tax credit, and tax credits never count in a Public Charge test.

Other Resources on Public Charge:

Remember that many immigrants are exempt from the Public Charge test, many benefits don't count in a Public Charge test, and benefits received by an immigrants children don't count against the parent in his or her public charge test inside the US.  For more information see the Public Charge Fact Sheet from Causa, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, and Oregon Law Center here in Englishhere in Spanish, and here in other languages.

For information on many types of public benefits that immigrants can get, see the Immigrants and Public Benefits guide here, and the Safety Net Resources guide here.

Call the Oregon Law Center/Legal Aid Services of Oregon Public Benefits Hotline for questions about public benefits and public charge.  1-800-520-5292.

  1. Many immigrants are exempt from the Public Charge rule - check the Public Charge Fact Sheet to see if the Public Charge rule does not apply to you; https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge
  1. Many benefits do not count in the Public Charge test – check the Public Charge Fact Sheet to see all the benefits that do not count in a Public Charge test; https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge
  1. Benefits an immigrant’s children/family members get do not count against the immigrant in his or her Public Charge test inside the US;
  1. Getting public benefits alone does not make you a public charge. Some public benefits may be critically important for the health and safety of your family. Read the Fact Sheet at https://oregonimmigrationresource.org/resources/?tab=public-charge or get legal advice so that you can make the right decision for your family.
  1. Resources: Go to Oregonimmigrationresource.org to find an immigration attorney, or call the Oregon Public Benefits Hotline at 1-800-520-5292 for legal advice about public benefits and Public Charge.

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Last Review and Update: Oct 01, 2020