On January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court voted by a narrow margin to allow the Trump Administration to move forward with the public charge rule. This vote lifted an injunction resulting from lower courts across the nation attempting to block the rule.
The public charge rule allows immigration officers to assess whether a person attempting to enter the U.S., extend their nonimmigrant visa, or adjust their status (i.e. obtain a green card) is currently or “likely at any time to become” a public charge, or a person who depends on government benefits.
The immigration officer may assess the following factors to determine whether the applicant is or may become a public charge:
- Financial status/resources (e.g. income, assets, etc.)
- Background/family status
- Education or skills
- Age and/or physical health
- Receipt of publicly funded benefits
What Public Benefits Will USCIS Consider?
When determining whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge, adjudicating officers will only consider applications for or receipt of public benefits on or after February 24, 2020.
USCIS may consider the following types of benefits to determine public charge inadmissibility:
- Cash assistance programs for income maintenance
- Cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Institutionalization for long-term care through programs like Medicaid (e.g. nursing homes or mental health facilities)
USCIS will not consider the use of benefits by the applicant’s family member(s) unless those benefits provide significant support for the household. Additionally, adjudicating officers will not consider non-cash benefits through TANF, public assistance for immunizations or contagious diseases, short-term rehabilitation, emergency medical care, nutritional programs, and more. Visit here for a full list of benefits that can and cannot be considered for public charge inadmissibility, as well as a list of certain types of immigrants who will not be assessed according to this rule.
Fortunately, the use of one type of benefit on its own will not be enough for an adjudicating officer to determine that someone is likely to become a public charge. According to USCIS, officers will weigh both the positive and the negative (i.e. a “totality of circumstances”) before determining public charge grounds of inadmissibility.
According to the Trump Administration, the public charge rule is meant to uphold America’s need for “self-sufficient immigrants,” but pro-immigration organizations argue that this unfairly discriminates against lower classes. Economists are concerned because the public charge rule will prevent hundreds of thousands of immigrants from coming to the U.S. and growing the labor force our economy needs.
The public charge rule goes into effect on February 24, 2020. It will not affect applications postmarked before this date, and it will not apply in naturalization cases.
Contact Us for One-On-One Support
If you are considering applying for a green card, extending your nonimmigrant visa, or entering the U.S. on or after February 24th, USCIS will most likely assess your application to determine whether you may become a public charge. At Simon Law Group, PLLC, we can help gauge your risk level for this type of inadmissibility. No matter your circumstances, we aim to provide comprehensive solutions and a clear path toward achieving your immigration goals.