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Update: Public Charge

City Harvest believes that no one should have to choose between putting food on the table and living in our city and country. We are disheartened by the Public Charge rule and the potential impact it will have on hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and people across the country. The fear and confusion caused by this rule have already driven too many families away from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other critical resources. Food is a basic right, and we will continue to work hard to ensure our neighbors in need have enough food for themselves and their families–no matter who they are or where they come from.

The Public Charge rule, which was first proposed in October 2018 and finalized on August 14, 2019, could impact immigrants who receive benefits from critical low income assistance programs, such as SNAP, Section-8 Housing Vouchers, Medicaid and long-term Medicare, as their participation in these programs could result in being denied permanent residency. The rule had been scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019, but was temporarily blocked by an injunction due to an ongoing lawsuit by the New York State Attorney General and civil rights groups in New York City. The recent Supreme Court decision on January 27 to lift the injunction resulted in the rule going into effect on February 24.

We’ll continue to stand up for protecting SNAP, and we’ll keep working closely with the City of New York and our partners across the city and country to fight for an equitable food system.

At this time, it is important to know:

  • Many immigrants will continue to be exempt from the public charge determination. You should not discontinue or alter your benefits until you consult an immigration expert.
  • There is no “public charge” test for green card holders applying for citizenship.
  • A public charge determination does not include participating in emergency food programs, such as food pantries and soup kitchens, school meal programs, Child Health Plus, or other critical services that are not explicitly listed in the published rule.
  • Medicaid, SNAP (“Food Stamps”), HUD public housing, and “Section 8” housing benefits received before February 24, 2020 will not be considered in the public charge determination.
  • Lawsuits are still active and the status of the Public Charge rule can change as litigation is ongoing.

To find out how Public Charge may impact you and your family, call ActionNYC at 1.800.354.0365 and say “public charge.” You will be connected with free, safe, legal services on immigration. New Yorkers can also contact the Office for New Americans hotline at 1.800.566.7636.

For more information about Public Charge, please visit:

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