In an attempt to restrict legal immigration without Congressional approval, the Trump Administration issued a proposed rule to make changes to immigration regulations concerning the ‘public charge’ policy. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the authority to deny green cards — which grant permanent legal residency — to applicants who they believe may become reliant on public resources (e.g. SNAP, Medicaid) to stay financially afloat. This policy is known as the ‘public charge’ rule, as it infers the immigrant will become the responsibility of U.S. taxpayers.
Under the current language of the rule, the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review a green card applicant’s history of cash-based support as a factor in making the decision. In other words, it is mainly interested in whether the applicant ever actually received cash or cash income from a government program. The Trump Administration has proposed to expand the magnifying glass of the rule and to require the named departments to also check if the applicant has ever used food stamps, housing vouching, Medicaid, and a variety of other support programs prior to approving applications. Even if the applicant has never received those services, the government can still deny the application for permanent residence if the petitioner or sponsor’s income is close to the poverty guideline.
The proposed rule would require an analysis of more factors before the government approves permanent residence applications, such as age, income, family size, and health complications. The government would perform a credit check of the petitioner, sponsor and applicant. The proposed changes would also make it possible for the government to demand a $10,000 bond from an “at-risk” green card applicant, which they would surrender if they ever required aid from a state or federal program.
Some groups are also concerned about other consequences of the proposed ‘public charge’ rule. In particular, some fear it will drive immigrant parents to not seek health insurance coverage or other services for their children, even if they are citizens of the United States. Interestingly and perhaps contrarily to the Trump Administration’s consistent efforts to stem certain forms of immigration, the USCIS notes that the ‘public charge’ rule often does not apply to refugees and people seeking asylum.
(For more information about the ‘public charge’ rule, you can click here to visit the official USCIS website, which describes its current language.)
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No matter who or where you are, you deserve trustworthy legal representation and guidance if you are attempting to enter the United States as an immigrant. If you have questions or concerns about attaining a green card and how the proposed ‘public charge’ rules could affect you, please do not hesitate to call (504) 784-6803 and connect with Wheatley Immigration Law, LLC. Our New Orleans immigration lawyers are headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana but helps clients across the country. Contact our firm now to begin.