Immigration supporters will likely view the plan as another way the Trump administration is attempting to thwart legal immigration.
The changes would apply to those seeking visas or legal permanent residency but not people applying for USA citizenship.
Immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance programs will have a tougher time getting into the country under a new proposal by the Trump administration.
The Trump administration on Saturday revealed its plan to make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the United States if they or their family may use certain public benefits.
The change would broaden the framework the USA considers when deciding status and entry for immigrants who are likely to receive public benefits such as nutrition assistance, low income housing subsidies and Medicaid above a specific threshold, according to the information released Saturday.
"This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress meant to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers", Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.
Immigrants applying for green cards are already required to prove they will not become a so-called "public charge", with receipt of cash benefits considered.
The regulation stipulates that immigrants can be denied visas or green cards if they used certain government aid, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps), public housing and Medicaid (with some "limited exceptions").
In an online statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department would be seeking public comment on the proposed rule in an effort to be transparent. Trump has advocated ending a visa lottery program and some kinds of family-based immigration but many of his desired changes would require congressional action.
The proposal, "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds", will be posted in the Federal Register in the coming weeks and subject to a 60-day public comment period.
The DHS proposes to require all immigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status to demonstrate that they have not received, are not now receiving, nor are likely to receive public benefits as defined in the proposed rule. "This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it".
Immigrant advocates have criticized the administration's plan, which was first reported by Reuters in February when it was in an early draft form, saying that it is an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change USA law. The "public charge" concept has a long history in immigration law, DHS noted, though the proposal would be a much broader take on it.
Immigrant advocacy groups said people may avoid or withdraw from public aid programs even at the risk of losing shelter and suffering deteriorating health because they worry they will be denied visas.