Immigrants now subject to public charge rule

On August 12, 2019 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security finalized what is known as the "public charge" rule. It is slated to go into effect on October 15, 2019 and has the potential to cause the great majority of immigrants to be denied a green card or visa.

The definition of a public charge is someone who receives, or is deemed likely to receive, government benefits of any kind. Under the new rule, by doing so, he or she may be denied entry in the U.S. or refused permanent status. The benefits include, but are not limited to, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, subsidized or Section 8 housing, SSI, and TANF. As of the effective date of the new rule, when an immigrant applies for a green card or Visa, only the benefits received by that individual person will be considered. The reason this could create an issue is because when the head of household applies for those benefits, the family is taken into consideration as a whole. In other words, the amount of benefits that person receives also include the family needs as a whole. For example, SNAP benefits may be enough to purchase food for a family of four. However, when applying for permanent resident status, those amounts can be viewed as only for one person, thereby making it seem that person is government dependent, and shall be denied. That person is labeled as a "public charge" and shall not be permitted entry or residency to the U.S.

Income limits put into place by the Trump administration are strict. Any immigrant who earns less than 250% of the federal poverty line will be immediately subject to intense scrutiny. That amount equals $64,375 for a family of four. Any immigrant who earns less than 125% of the federal poverty line will be automatically excluded from permanent status and deemed to be a public charge. That amount equals $32,188 for a family of four.

This is a very serious rule change that could negatively affect the lives of many, many immigrants and their families. If you are having trouble obtaining a green card or Visa, an immigration attorney can assist you with this matter. If the reason for your denial is due to the new public charge rule, expert legal counsel in highly recommended before moving forward.

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