New Green Card Public Charge Rule: Are You Prepared?

A new government regulation that will affect green card applicants is scheduled to go into effect on October 15th. Here is what you need to know.

Under immigration law, in general someone who is deemed likely to become a "public charge" is barred from receiving a green card.

What is a public charge? The current rule defines a public charge as someone likely to become primarily dependent on the government for income support. The new rule redefines a public charge as a person likely to receive "public benefits" for more than 12 months over any 36-month period in the future.

What are considered "public benefits" under the new rule?
Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance (e.g. SSI, TANF), federal, state, and local cash benefits programs for income maintenance, SNAP, Section 8 housing and public housing under Section 9, and Medicaid (with certain exceptions).

How will the government determine whether someone is likely to receive public benefits for more than 12 months over any 36-month period in the future? A totality of circumstances test will be used. Factors considered will be age, health, family status, education and skills, and assets, resources, and financial status, taking into account a broad range of positive and negative factors. Heavily weighted negative factors will include receipt of public benefits in the past (but after the date the rule goes into effect). Heavily weighted positive factors will include having a high household income (at least 250% of the federal poverty level) and having private health insurance.

Will this change mean more paperwork? Yes. There will be additional paperwork required in order for the government to assess the likelihood of a green card applicant becoming a public charge.

Will the government consider benefits that an applicant received before the new rule goes into effect? No. The government will not consider benefits received before the new rule goes into effect when using the totality of circumstances test.

Is this change certain to go into effect on October 15th? No. Nearly 20 states have filed lawsuits attempting to halt the implementation of the new rule. It is possible that a court will issue an injunction preventing the rule from going into effect on its scheduled date.

If I qualify to apply for a green card now, should I submit my application prior to October 15th? Yes! You can avoid the new rule entirely if you submit your green card application before it goes into effect. Contact us
today at 415-496-9040 or for a free 15 minute phone call to get started.