Many Ukrainians ask about the consequences on accepting public benefits if they later wish to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence).
Under the current Public Charge Rule, a “public charge” is defined as a noncitizen “who has received one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule, for more than 12 months within any 36-month period.” Not all benefits are considered for the public charge determination. Receiving health benefits, nutritional benefits, and housing benefits are not considered for individuals who apply for adjustment of status through a relative or certain employers. Only cash assistance, Social Security Income (SSI), or federally-funded institutional long term care (such as care in a nursing home) count toward public charge for individuals who apply for adjustment of status through a family relative or certain employers.
However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual likely to become a public charge in the future. Getting government funded benefits alone does not make you a public charge. The public charge analysis uses a “totality of circumstances test,” and the receipt of benefits is just one factor. A person applying for an adjustment of status may submit affidavits of support and proof of employment to balance out previous receipt of benefits.
Most Importantly, Ukrainian humanitarian parolees MAY accept those federal benefits for which they have been approved by law through an act of Congress while they are present on valid humanitarian parole.
“USCIS does not consider any public benefits that were received by noncitizens who, while not refugees, are eligible for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits available to refugees. This provision only applies to the categories of noncitizens who are eligible for all three types of support listed (resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits) typically reserved for refugees … As part of an effort by the U.S. government to assist noncitizens impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Congress has also extended benefits normally reserved for refugees to certain Ukrainians.”
Furthermore, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has stated its position as follows:
“The final rule also states that when a noncitizen, who is not a refugee, lawfully receives benefits available to refugees, the receipt of these benefits will not be considered. These benefits include resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits generally available to refugees, including services provided to unaccompanied minors under 6 USC §279(g)(2). This includes Ukrainian Humanitarian Parolees, Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, and [other] noncitizens…”
USCIS confirms that the following health, nutritional, and housing federal benefits for Ukrainian humanitarian parolees would be exempt from the public charge determination:
- TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- CHIP: Children’s Health Insurance Program
- Medicaid: Health insurance
Ukrainian Parolees may also receive federal cash benefits designated by Congress for which they are entitled while they are in the U.S. during their initial humanitarian parole period.
After your humanitarian parole expires or your immigration status changes, you may still be eligible for certain other federal or state benefits. For Ukrainians who choose to accept cash assistance after they are no longer on valid humanitarian parole, it is recommended to consult a qualified immigration attorney before applying to adjust to permanent status through a family relative or certain employers.
For more information on benefits, visit our Resources in the United States page, h
For more information on the Public Charge Rule, visit https://ukrainetaskforce.org/public-charge-ground-of-inadmissibility/.