Department of Homeland Security Expands List of Immigrants Who Could Become Public Charges, Making It More Difficult to Obtain Admission or Permanent Residency
In mid-December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued significant proposed changes regarding what qualifies as a “public charge” within immigration rules. In other words, the agency has changed the process by which it determines who is likely to rely on government benefits for support, which will inevitably affect (increase) how many people are denied admission or permanent residency in the U.S. because they could be considered to be a “burden.”
Current Factors Taken Into Account to Determine a “Public Charge”
Currently, immigration officials take the following into account in determining whether someone who is trying to immigrate to the U.S. is likely to be a public charge:
- Whether they are likely to require assistance from programs such as “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” (TNAF), general cash assistance, and/or Medicaid;
- Family status;
- Financial status;
- Skills; and/or
- Whether they have an affidavit of support.
Proposed Changes Completely Redefine What It Means To Be a Public Charge
The new rule lowers the standard and makes it much easier to determine that someone will be a public charge because it includes anyone who could become a public charge at any time, and adds to the number of public benefit programs that, if they may need access to, they could therefore be considered a public charge, including food stamps and housing assistance, being considered to be“too old” (62 years or older), or even “too young” (17 or younger), not speaking English well enough, and/or having “health conditions.” In order to qualify for a “positive factor” in this new process, your “household income” has to be at or above 250 percent of the federal poverty limit; you must be in perfect health; and/or you must be between the ages of 18 and 60.
The Disparate Impacts This Will Have on Everyone, Including Legal Immigrants
The new proposed rules will have significantly disproportionate effects on children, those with disabilities, and senior citizens. According to news sources, families are already reportedly turning away much-needed benefits because they are concerned that this could significantly affect the immigration status of their family members. This will also likely have a “chilling” effect for those who are already legally here because of the confusing nature of the rules and the impression that anyone who immigrated to the U.S. could be penalized for participating in public benefit programs.
Contact Our North Carolina Immigration Attorneys with Questions
At this time, immigration laws and regulations are more difficult and complex than they have ever been because of the purposeful attempts to make legal immigration to the U.S. as difficult as possible. If you are facing concerns in this area, you need an experienced immigration lawyer to help you address your immigration legal needs and achieve a positive outcome. Contact our North Carolina immigration lawyers at Dysart Willis today to find out how we can help.