The Trump administration’s new policy on the “pubic charge rule” took effect on October 15, 2019. This new policy is designed to reduce the number of people, inside the U.S., who are eligible for green cards and other visas, by redefining what makes them dependent on government benefits, or “likely” to be in the future.
What was the previous “public charge” rule?
The public charge concept was first established by Congress in 1882 in order to allow the U.S. government to deny a visa to anyone who “is likely at any time to become a public charge”—but without defining what “public charge” means.
Since 1999, immigration officers had followed agency guidelines that a public charge is someone “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” as demonstrated by either (a) using public cash assistance for income maintenance or (b) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. Specifically, this had included:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly known as “welfare”
- State and local cash assistance, sometimes called “General Assistance”
- Medicaid or other programs supporting long-term institutionalized care, such as in a nursing home or mental health institution
Under the previous policy, very few immigrants had been denied green cards on public-charge grounds because Congress required that most green card applicants have a financial sponsor who could demonstrate sufficient income to prevent future dependency of the applicant on government benefits. As a result, the majority of visa applicants had been able to avoid the “public charge” bar by submitting a financial sponsor’s Affidavit of Support, accompanied by evidence of meeting the statutory income threshold, defined as 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
If you have any questions about the “public charge policy” or any other immigration matter, contact our attorneys at the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C. Our experienced immigration attorneys can advise you on what actions to take to avoid jeopardizing your ability to obtain the immigration benefits you seek.