In alignment with current federal government actions regarding the Public Charge Rule, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County will continue to provide healthy food and nutrition education to all who need it in Santa Barbara County.

The Public Charge Rule, instituted during the Trump administration, influenced immigration status decisions based on whether individuals were expected to become dependent on public services in order to reside in the United States.

The Foodbank has always provided supplemental food assistance to anyone living in Santa Barbara County who needs it, regardless of their immigration status.

The federal government informed the Supreme Court it will no longer defend the public charge rule issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Trump administration.

DHS announced it would restore the public charge policy described in the 1999 field guidance once the order vacating the DHS rule is final. As that order is now final, DHS confirmed the 1999 guidance is in effect.

On March 9, the Biden administration filed motions asking the Supreme Court to dismiss its appeals. The motions were granted, leaving the circuit court orders in place. This allowed the Seventh Circuit to dismiss the appeal of the lower court’s final order, which then enabled the district court to effectively vacate the rule.

DHS issued a statement that it would return to the public charge policy detailed in the 1999 Field Guidance published by the (formerly) Immigration and Naturalization Service. As a result, the 2019 Public Charge rule is no longer in effect nationwide.

In addition, DHS has clarified that medical testing, treatment and preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccines, are not considered for public charge purposes.

On Feb. 1, DHS issued a statement reinforcing that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccine distribution sites or clinics.

Additionally, ICE does not and will not carry out enforcement operations at or near health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, health clinics, or urgent care facilities, “except in the most extraordinary circumstances.”

California Health and Human Services (CHHS), along with the California Departments of Social Services, Health Care Services, and Public Health, developed a consumer guide. It is intended to: provide a high-level explanation of the federal changes; direct individuals who may have questions to state-funded legal services providers.

Key takeaways:

The public charge inadmissibility test does not apply to all immigrants — many immigrants are exempt from a public charge test.
Most immigrants who are subject to public charge are not eligible for the benefits that count under the test, and many benefits are not considered in the public charge assessment.

Foodbank services such as food distributions, program activities, home-delivery program for seniors, and more, continue to be available to any individual regardless of immigration status, age, race or ethnicity.

Community members with questions or who need assistance with CalFresh/SNAP applications, may contact the Foodbank’s Calfresh outreach coordinator, 805-699-1198. All services for CalFresh are  conducted in English and Spanish, currently by phone only.

Families or individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are unable to shop for food, may contact the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, 805-357-5761, to arrange for home delivery.

To locate the nearest SAFE Net food distribution, visit or phone 805-967-5741.

Below is further information on the public charge ground of inadmissibility under the 1999 Field Guidance and a listing of resources regarding immigration in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Who does public charge apply to?
The “public charge inadmissibility test” affects people applying for admission to the country or for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. It does not apply to humanitarian immigrants such as refugees, asylees, survivors of domestic violence, trafficking and other serious crimes, special immigrant juveniles, and certain individuals paroled into the US.  A complete list is set forth at 8 CFR §212.23(a) as set forth at 84 Fed. Reg. 41504.

Why are there two sets of regulations?
Decisions about applications for admission or LPR-status processed outside the U.S. (at embassies or consular offices abroad) are made by State Department officials. Department of State (DOS) regulations affect people seeking immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, and people seeking to be admitted to the US as LPRs. The changes also affect applicants for LPR status who are required to leave the U.S. to seek status through consular processing.

Decisions about applications for admission and adjustment to LPR status processed inside the U.S. are made by officials of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS.

What is the definition of a public charge under the 1999 Field Guidance?
Under the Guidance, a public charge is a person who is or has become (for deportation purposes) or who is likely to become (for admission/adjustment purposes) ‘‘primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.’’

What public benefits are considered under the 1999 Field Guidance?
The only benefits considered are cash assistance for income maintenance and institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. Short-term and special purpose cash payments and institutionalization for short periods of rehabilitation are not considered.

Food and nutrition programs, including SNAP, and housing programs, such as public housing and Section 8, are not considered.  Medicaid is considered only if it is used to pay for long-term care.

Other immigration resources in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties:

State-funded organizations that can provide legal services to immigrants are listed on the Public Charge Provider List.

Santa Barbara County Immigrant Defense Center

120 E. Jones St. #117, Santa Maria, CA 93454; 805-886-9136

601 E. Montecito St. Santa Barbara, CA 93103 805-886-9136

Importa Santa Barbara

327 E. Plaza Drive, Ste. 3 Santa Maria, CA 93454; 805-453-0609

129 E Carrillo St. Santa Barbara, CA 93101; 805-604-5060

Services: Consultation/intake

Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy

120 E. Jones St. #120 Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-922-4447

126 E. Haley St. #A17 Santa Barbara, CA 93101; 805-850-3028

2021 Sperry Ave., #9 Ventura, CA 93003; 805-658-0810

Services: Education outreach

Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)

108 S. Pine St. Santa Maria, CA 93458; 805-623-5892

520 W. Fifth St., Ste. F Oxnard, CA 93030; 805-483-1166

Languages: Spanish, Mixteco Services: Education Outreach

Individuals who expect to apply for a visa or lawful permanent resident status should consult an immigration lawyer. Community members may find help by visiting:

For more information, visit