Receiving public benefits may affect your immigration status or ability to travel outside the U.S. If the government determines that you are or could become a “public charge” it reserves the right to deny your application for a green card. A public charge is a person who cannot support themselves and who depends on benefits that provide cash (such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)). In making its determination, the government will also consider your age, health, family status, assets, resources financial status and education and skills.
If you have used public benefits in the past and are now applying for a green card, it is advisable that you demonstrate reasons why you will not become a public charge (i.e. you are now employed, special skill, changed circumstances, etc.). If you become a public charge after obtaining a green card, you may only be removed under very rare and limited circumstances. If you travel outside the U.S. for over 180 days (6 months), the government may review whether or not you are likely to become a public charge.