There are many qualifications and restrictions for immigrants applying for a green card. One such restriction is that potential green card recipients must not be considered a ‘public charge’. To be considered a public charge, the immigrant would have to be accepting cash welfare under programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Social Security Insurance (SSI) programs. The Trump administration is seeking to expand the definition of ‘public charge’ in order to restrict immigration.
The proposed regulation issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeks to give United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) more leeway to reject more green card applications. In addition to cash welfare, applications could be denied if an immigrant has used benefits from Medicaid, the Medicare prescription drug program, food stamps, or the Section 8 housing program. The change does not appear to be retroactive, and only benefits used after the new regulation has taken affect will be considered.
Making the entire process more complicated is that using the aforementioned programs does not automatically label an immigrant a public charge. There appears to be a formula that takes into consideration what kind of benefits are used and how long those benefits were used. The formula also takes into consideration the green card applicant’s household income, personal health, family size, age, and whether or not he or she has health insurance. Applicants may also be able to pay the government to overlook them as public charges. The new regulations have been whispered about for a while and have caused many immigrants to stop using public assistance programs.
Immigration law is already complicated. Changing the standards by which immigrants apply for a green card will only make things more complicated. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth offers expert legal advice to immigrants who wish to live and work legally in the United States. We offer free initial consultations at 888-517-9888.