Government Focuses on Immigrants’ Financial Health

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a new rule to determine eligibility for temporary work status, a green card, or admission to the United States. The rule changes the standard used to decide how likely an applicant is to become a financial burden on the government (“public charge”).  To make this determination, adjudicators apply a totality of the circumstances test. This test weighs the applicant’s age, health, family status, education and skills, assets, resources, and financial status.  The rule will go into effect on October 15, 2019, but the government will not consider benefits received prior to this date

Family-Based Green Card Applicants: If an applicant received certain public benefits, such as food stamps, during a designated time period, the applicant might not be eligible for a green card.

Temporary Work Status: Furthermore, DHS will conduct a more limited public charge determination for nonimmigrants seeking a change or extension of status. In these cases, the government will only consider whether the applicant has received designated benefits for a certain period since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to change from or extend.  Fortunately, the government will not weigh other factors in determining if the applicant will be a public charge in the future.

Asylum: Notably, this new rule does not apply to asylum applicants and refugees.

Though this rule is much more restrictive than current policy, we will continue to prepare our clients so they are able to demonstrate they will not become a public charge.  As we previously wrote, the government has been taking aim at this ground of inadmissibility for some time, but with the proper documentation and preparation, we know our clients will continue to be successful in their immigration matters.

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