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What does “Public Charge” refer to? Public charge is the term that has been used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to refer to immigrants who have become dependent on public benefits while living in the United States. According to US Immigration law, USCIS has the right to refuse adjustment of status from an immigrant to a permanent resident to a person who has been considered a public charge. A “public charge” can also be denied a US visa or prevented from entering the US at the country’s border.

Good examples of people who can be considered “Public Charges” are those who receive public cash assistance for income maintenance or long term institutionalization at government’s expense. Determining weather or not a person is considered a public charge depends on a multitude of factors, including but not limited to: age, health, family status, financial status, education, etc. Keep in mind that the use of government funded health benefits do not make an immigrant a public charge. Examples of government funded health benefits include Medicaid, CHP and Medicare Prenatal Services. Also, be aware that you might have difficulty adjusting to permanent status if you have used Medicaid as a payment method for long-term institutionalization.

If you have doubts about your particular case, contact a competent immigration attorney..

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