Public charge is only an issue when a person first applies for their green card through a family petition or for a non-immigrant visa such as a student or fiancé visa. It is not a consideration when you apply for citizenship or to renew your green card.

Use this quick screening tool to check whether the test might apply to you. If you get a “yellow light”, come back to this page.

The public charge test would not apply to people renewing their DACA or applying for or re-registering for Temporary Protected Status (TPS); Special Immigrant Juveniles; or anyone applying for a green card through asylee or refugee status, VAWA self-petitions, U or T visas, Amerasian petitions; Afghan or Iraqi Special Immigrant petitions; Cuban and Haitian Entrant petitions; NACARA petitions; or the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act.

For a detailed breakdown of these categories, see page 2 of our handout.

Be aware that even if the public charge test would not apply to you, it could impact your ability to petition for a family member in the future.

If you are looking to apply for a green card for the first time for yourself or a family member, we recommend that you consult an attorney. If you are in the Boston area, there are free immigration clinics every first and third Wednesday of the month, noon to 2pm, at Boston City Hall, Room 806. You can also receive free legal advice from the Irish International Immigrant Center at one of their clinics. If you are outside the Boston area, see our list of legal service providers.

Please note that the information on this page is not a replacement for advice from a trained immigration lawyer. 

Email Jessica Chicco at