by Elizabeth R. Blandon

When determining whether a foreigner cannot become a legal permanent resident, CIS will look at cash assistance for income maintenance. This includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and state or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance, often called “General Assistance” programs. No single factor – other than the lack of an affidavit of support, if required – will determine whether an individual is a public charge.

Short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation is not subject to public charge consideration. Non-cash benefits and special purpose cash benefits that are NOT subject to public charge consideration include:

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Nutrition programs, including food stamps and the National School Lunch and School breakfast program
Housing benefits
Child care services
Energy assistance
Emergency disaster relief
Foster care and adoption assistance
Educational assistance including benefits under the Head Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary or higher education
Job training programs
In-kind, community based programs, services or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter)
Non-cash benefits under TANF such as subsidized child care or transit subsidies
Cash payments that have been earned, such as Title II Social Security benefits, government pensions, and veterans’ benefits

Importantly, unemployment compensation is also not considered for public charge purposes. Receipt of these benefits must still be revealed to CIS when applying for residency. For reassurance, the applicant may wish to consult with an immigration attorney.