Can I Get A Green Card If I Received Public Benefits?

 In Family Based Immigration, Public Charge, Waivers

Can I Get A Green Card If I Received Public Benefits?

On Oct 10, 2018 the Federal Government proposed a new rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants to apply for legal permanent residence (also known as “green cards”) if they received certain kinds of public assistance, making them a “public charge”. The new rule defines what is considered a “public charge” and expands on what benefits makes someone a public charge.

Let’s address a series of questions before going into the federal government’s new proposed rule about public charge.

1.What is a Public Charge?

Currently, the U.S government can deny certain temporary visas and legal permanent residence to anyone who is likely to become a public charge, meaning an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on government aid.

2. How is the Public Charge currently applied?

The government considers the “totality of the circumstances” to determine if someone is likely to become a public charge. They consider, age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills.

3. What types of Public Benefits makes someone likely to be determined a public charge?

Currently, acceptance of the following types of assistance may lead to the determination that a person is likely to become a public charge:

-Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

-Federal Welfare such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF),

-State and Local Cash Assistance Programs (General Assistance Programs)

-Health Care Programs include Medicaid supporting individuals who are institutionalized for long-term care.

New Proposed Rule

Under the proposed new public charge rule, the government could deny green cards and temporary visas to anyone who has received specific public benefits AND deemed likely at any time in the future to receive specific government benefits.

Most drastically, the rule expands on the public benefits that will lead to a determination of a public charge. The new list will include some health insurance programs, specifically Medicaid, a federal-state health insurance for low-income people, Food Stamps, Section 8 rental assistance and federal housing vouchers just to name a few.

Even if someone is eligible for these programs and later applies for a green card or visa they are taking the risk of the government denying his/her application if they received the benefits.

The proposed rule is a dramatic change from how public charge is viewed today and really targets low-income immigrants. A final rule likely would not take effect until 2019, but it is very important to consider if you are someone receiving a public benefit and plan to apply for legal permanent residence or another type of visa.

For more information, please refer to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-Public Charge https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge.

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