The purpose of public benefits is to help people help themselves by providing temporary assistance during hard times. Immigrants, in addition to U.S. citizens, are eligible for certain federal, state and local public benefits without immigration consequences. Many immigrants shy away from any type of public assistance thinking they will risk their immigration status if they seek help. There is good cause for concern: An immigrant may be inadmissible to the U.S., ineligible to become a legal permanent resident, and in some (rare) cases, deported if they have been determined to be a "public charge," or someone who requires income assistance or long-term institutionalized care. However, immigrants are eligible to receive certain health care benefits, take part in food programs and participate in other non-cash programs.
If you've fallen on hard times, you're not alone. There are many types of assistance for eligible immigrants. Learn more about immigrants and public benefits to understand what USCIS says about receiving public benefits.