Will the public charge rule impact your Green Card application?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2020 | Public Charge

Legally entering the United States often requires a massive amount of paperwork, significant financial support and a lot of patience. Even after you arrive in the United States, you will likely have to take additional steps if you hope to stay here or work here, including submitting to routine reviews and complying with all state and federal laws.

The family immigration system in the United States is meant to make it easier for those who have close family ties with either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to enter the United States and potentially become citizens or Green Card holders if they qualify. However, these individuals are still subject to the same degree of scrutiny as other immigration applicants, including a review of their background and their financial circumstances.

If you hope to apply for an adjustment of your status and secure a Green Card that will allow you to legally remain in the United States permanently, you may worry whether the recently increased enforcement of the public charge rule will affect your likelihood of success.

What is the public charge rule?

When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews requests made by residents and potential immigrants, they want to approve applications that will benefit American society as a whole. That is one reason why the background check process for immigration is thorough, as the USCIS does not want to admit criminals to the United States, especially those with a violent past.

The public charge rule aims to prevent those who enter the United States from relying on taxpayer funds to maintain their household. Currently, if an applicant has received 12 months of benefits like SNAP, Section 8 housing benefits, Welfare or Medicaid over the last three years, they will likely find themselves denied a status change due to their public charge status. Each benefit received counts toward the total, so if you receive four kinds of benefits for three months, the rule could affect you.

Just receiving benefits doesn’t mean you can’t get your green card

It’s important to recognize that not all state benefits have the same effect on your request to adjust your status. For example, unemployment benefits are earned benefits that your employer contributed to as a reflection of the work you have provided for them. Unlike Medicaid or Welfare benefits, unemployment benefits shouldn’t affect your ability to adjust your status.

Additionally, if you only need temporary help for a month or two, that likely won’t result in the USCIS determining that you could likely be a public charge in the future.