What the Immigrant Community in California Needs to Know

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with shelter-in-place orders and social distancing protocols, it has become more difficult to reach the immigrant community to share information about immigration policies and access to resources. At the same time, given the economic devastation of COVID-19 for many immigrant families, it has never been more important to talk about what supportive services immigrants can obtain and how accessing services may or may not impact immigration legal opportunities in the United States.

In this community-focused presentation, we explain what public charge is and who it applies to, and how the public charge test works. We also describe federal, state, and local emergency response programs available to immigrant families who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19, as of the end of May 2020.

A full-length presentation covering all the material is available below, as well as three modules covering the same information in shorter recordings. See below for further information about the three modules.

Module 1: What is Public Charge and Who Does it Apply To?

Module 1 describes what public charge is (and is not), and who the public charge test applies to (and who it does not).

Module 2: How Does the Public Charge Test Work?

Module 2 explains the public charge test under the new public charge policies implemented in February 2020, including which public benefits programs in California immigration officers consider when conducting a public charge test (and which public benefits are not considered).

Module 3: COVID-19 and Public Charge

Module 3 discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and its connection to immigrants and public charge. We cover USCIS announcements on COVID-19 and public charge, as well as federal COVID-19 relief packages that Congress has passed, and which immigrants qualify for federal aid programs. We also talk about state and local COVID-19 aid funds, including California’s Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) Project, and Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). In addition, we address immigrants’ public charge concerns about utilizing federal, state, and local COVID-19 aid programs and using public benefits for COVID-19 testing and treatment or because of COVID-19-related issues, like quarantine and employer and school closures.

These presentations were created specifically for the immigrant community in California. Some information may be applicable to immigrants who reside elsewhere in the United States but note that we refer to public benefits programs and COVID-19 relief programs available only in California.

Please see the modules here: https://www.ilrc.org/public-charge-what-immigrant-community-california-needs-know


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