What Do You Need To Know About The Public Charge Rule?

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), eligibility for immigration to the U.S. was to include a consideration as to whether that person might become a financial burden to the U.S. This act said, in part, that, “Any alien who in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa… is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.”

The act emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency of people from other countries seeking U.S. residency or citizenship, stating that they should “not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors and private organizations.”

In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published an updated rule on this issue, entitled the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. In the words of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it clarifies “the factors considered when determining whether someone is likely at any time in the future to become a public charge, is inadmissible,” – that is, “ineligible for admission or adjustment of status.”

This final rule, known as Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, expanded the definitions for public charge and public benefits to include the following:

  • Any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or formerly called “Food Stamps”)
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance
  • Public housing
  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions, including emergency medical care, pregnancy care and COVID-19-related services)

While there have been legal challenges in federal courts to this DHS rule, the potential for ineligibility remains a concern for people seeking entry into the U.S. or adjustment to green card status.

What Does This Mean To Me Or My Family Member Who Needs An Adjustment Of Status?

The best course of action if you are worried is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. I have been practicing law for more than 20 years. Most of my law practice today focuses on family immigration law matters. I work hard to stay up to date on the laws and trends affecting my clients.

Above all, I urge you not to try to determine on your own what this rule may mean for you or your family member who is seeking admission and/or permanent residency (green card status). I can review your situation and advise you on whether, and how, you can still steer around it or if you are exempt.

Get Answers And Personalized Advice

In an initial free consultation covering the public charge rule and other immigration law issues relevant to your situation, I can help you review available options for avoiding or correcting related problems. Call 412-223-7924 or email me to request a meeting at your convenience.