At The Law Offices of Neelam Bhardwaj, we are committed to ensuring that you have up to the minute immigration information that can affect you and your family. January 27, 2020 it was announced that the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, granted President Trump the right to move forward with the public charge rule that would make it harder for immigrants to get a green card, while making it easier for immigration officers to deny them.

The “public charge rule” from the Department of Homeland security gives immigration officials wide sweeping capabilities to deny anyone that they believe would become a “public charge”. A public charge is the label given to anyone that takes part in any of the government assistance programs. The new rule became effective on February 24, 2020. 

What You Need to Know About the Public Charge Rule

This new rule does not apply to every immigrant, but it does apply to many immigrant families. It will impact immigrants that are seeking permanent residency through petitions by family members. Public charge can be grounds for denying green cards.

Green card public charge can be used as grounds for denial. The new public charge rule can also be used to deny admission into the United States or to deny visas for family members. 

Who Does the New Rules NOT Effect?

There are certain visa categories that are protected from the new public charge rule. Protected status as an asylee, T visa holders, U visa holders, refugee status, and more will not be affected by the green card public charge changes.

The public charge rule will not affect the naturalization process. If you are a lawful permanent resident on your way to becoming a US citizen this change should not affect you.

If you are uncertain if you are at risk please call our office. An immigration lawyer can answer your questions and help you determine if the new rules will affect you and your family.

The Changes with the New Public Charge Rule

The green card public charge rule can be a game changer for many immigrants. When you apply for a green card under the New Public Charge the risk of being denied is greater than ever. The denials will start with USCIS and will continue with DHS.

Before, if you were gainfully employed, and followed all the laws, immigration services was happy to help you further your goal of becoming a lawful permanent residence. Under this administration, not only are you likely to be denied for green cards, but you can be deported as well

Here are the highlights of the new public charge rule:

  • The new rule will be used to determine if an immigrant is likely to receive any benefit for longer than a 12 month period. Under the old rule, the evaluation was to determine if an applicant for entry or green card was thought to become primarily dependent on the government for support.
  • The rule also has expanded the list of programs that an immigration officer can use to find the applicant inadmissible. For example, formerly SNAP benefits (food stamps) were not on the list of programs, Section 8 housing assistance, and Medicaid has all been added to the list. What does that mean? If you receive any of those benefits for more than 12 months in a 3 year period you can be denied for your green card. There are exemptions like if you receive Medicaid under the age of 21 or you received Medicaid while pregnant. If you take donations from a privately funded organization like Catholic Charities, it will not be held against you.
  • As was true under the old immigration laws, if you receive cash benefits, you can be found inadmissible (denied). The new rule has been expanded to include local cash assistance and any state benefits separate from the TANF program and Social Security Insurance.

The above covers the financial part of the changes, but that is not all the new public charge ruling allows. Other things that an immigration officer will be able to use to determine whether your green card application will be denied or approved include:

  • Your English proficiency (how well you speak English).
  • Your credit score, which can be used as a positive or a negative.
  • If you have private health insurance and any medical conditions can also be a negative or a positive.

Under the new public charge rule you will be required to file a brand new form. The I-944 form, the Declaration of Self-Sufficiency will be a part of the green card application for adjustment to status.

You will also need to use the DS-5540. The DS-5540 is the Public Charge Questionnaire. The process has become more complicated because of the public charge changes. It is imperative that each and every form is filled out correctly. You should have an immigration attorney on the case to assist you with this process.

What Can You Do If You are Denied on Grounds of Public Charge Inadmissibility?

In some cases, you may be able to file a bond with the USCIS, but this can be expensive. Typically, the minimum bond amount is set at around $8,100. If you are found public charge inadmissible during consular processing, it is rare to be able to submit a bond.

What Should You Do?

Until there is real, comprehensive immigration reform you will need an immigration attorney for every immigration process. The climate is far too risky to navigate on your own. Undocumented immigrants are at risk every day in the United States of being arrested by ICE and deported.  Making sure you are able to secure your immigration status is more important than ever. Immigration enforcement is at an all time high, do not risk your freedom, contact us and make an appointment today.

Find out why we’re one of the top immigration lawyers in Greensboro. Let us help you today!

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