Public Charge is a designation that defines a non-citizen as "likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long term care at government expense.” Those policies are outlined in the 1999 interim field guidance.
The 2019 Public Charge Final Rule had changed the definition so that accessing medical care, food support, and housing support could also be used to determine someone’s likelihood of becoming dependent on the government for subsistence. That change further restricted immigrant access to services; causing hardship, and impacting the health of many California residents, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Immigrants and their loved ones across California can seek and accept medical care, food assistance and public housing without fear or confusion about public charge consequences, thanks to changes in federal policy”. -California Health and Human Services Leaders
Here is the March 2021 California Public Charge Guide in English, and in Spanish. This is a great handout to help families and clients understand the changes.
“To immigrant families in California, we want you to know that California fought to end this shameful policy and you should continue to use available public services that help you and your family thrive and be healthy. Remember that medical testing, treatment and preventative services for COVID-19, including vaccines, will not be considered for public charge purposes.”