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The “wealth test” for immigrants

| Aug 26, 2020 | Public Charge

There’s been a lot of back-and-forth in legal arenas regarding the controversial “wealth test” that the federal government has imposed on people seeking immigrant visas and green cards. Currently, however, the new — much more restrictive — policy favored by the current presidential administration has been permitted to move forward in every state except Vermont, Connecticut and New York.

The government has long attempted to keep immigrants out of this country whenever it seemed like that immigrant was destined to become a “public charge.” Under the old rules, only long-term institutional care or the receipt of cash assistance was considered evidence that a person wasn’t self-sustaining.

Under the new rules, the receipt of noncash benefits can also be considered a serious barrier to immigration. Medicaid benefits, food stamps, housing vouchers and the like can all be used to say that an immigrant isn’t self-sustaining. The only reason that Vermont, Connecticut and New York have been exempted from the new rules is that their respective attorneys general have filed requests for relief, saying that allowing immigrants unfettered access to medical services during the current times is a matter of public health and safety.

Immigration officials can now weigh various factors to determine the risk you pose of becoming a public charge in the near future. That includes things like your age, your work history, your education background, your sources of income, any independent wealth or resources that you may have, your health and other relevant issues.

Knowing how to improve your chances of passing the wealth test isn’t easy, but an experienced advocate may be able to help. The sooner you start looking into your options, the easier you may find it to move through the immigration process.