For those hopeful of immigrating into the United States, knowing the laws and having a legal advocate are important steps to take before applying for citizenship. As of February 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a new rule for those seeking American residency that aims to reduce strain on government-provided services. Known as Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, this rule states that applicants for immigration are expected to, “be self-sufficient” if their applications are to be approved. 8 U.S.C. § 1601 (2)(B) outlines that public benefits should not, “constitute an incentive for immigration to the United States,” making it important to address that concern when applying.
If you or a loved one are looking to obtain residency in the U.S., this change could have serious implications for you. While protected classes still exist, such as refugees and asylum seekers, others could be affected by this rule if USCIS deems them likely to use up more government resources than they provide. By working with an experienced immigration lawyer throughout your application process, you can feel more confident about positively representing your situation to the parties that need to know and increasing your chances of successful immigration.
How the New Law Affects You
As USCIS states, “Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes.” Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds allows immigration officials to review any 36-month period of an applicant’s past to check for up receipt of public assistance. If they are found to have received up to 12 months’ worth of assistance in that time, their application could be denied on these grounds.
By implementing this new rule, those targeted will include recipients of cash benefits like SSI and TANF, those living in Section 8 housing, and most recipients of Medicaid services.
Not all public assistance counts against an applicant, with exceptions provided for:
- Emergency medical assistance
- Energy assistance
- Student and mortgage loans
- Disaster relief
- Benefits received by members of the U.S. armed forces
- Medicaid provided to those under 21, those suffering an emergency, and to pregnant women/ women within 60 days of the last day of their pregnancy
- Services provided under the Disabilities Education Act
- Services provided by schools to students
- Medicaid benefits to those under 21
How to Improve Your Chances at Successful Immigration
Regardless of the new rule changes, the aim of immigration remains the same: populate the U.S. with productive citizens. If you can apply and demonstrate your ability to produce as much or more than you receive, your chances are still good for obtaining residency.
You will not be considered a public charge if you are authorized to work, are currently employed, and earn at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your location. You are also expected to have private health insurance without receiving tax credit subsidies to pay for it.
While students are not free of suspicion of being a public charge, they have a higher chance of successfully immigrating than does someone who is not a student. If the applicant has a serious medical condition, that could also hurt their chances.
Put an Experienced Advocate on Your Side
The Galveston immigration lawyers at Zendeh Del & Associates, PLLC have built a reputation for careful representation that prioritizes each client’s best interests. We can help you better understand how this new rule affects your application process and how you can make the best use of your legal options.
Schedule a consultation today by calling (409) 204-5566 or contacting us online.