The controversial “Public Charge” rule enters into force. This is what you should know

This Monday, February 24, the new public charge rule entered into force. Rule that will regulate, from now on, the way in which the federal government officials of the United States will determine whether or not they grant a migratory benefit, for example: a visa, an extension of stay or a permanent legal residence (green card) ).

This new and controversial policy changes for the first time a system that was implemented in 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which regulates the immigration system and determines who are the foreigners who can enter and stay in the country.

Until now, the process for obtaining a visa or residence forced foreigners to demonstrate that they had the resources to pay their expenses and not depend on the government. But the new rule adds other factors factors, for example, age, health status or level of study.

These are the keys to understanding what the new public charge rule is about:

What is it?

In September of last year, President Trump’s government revealed plans to make it difficult to approve visas, change status or requests for permanent legal residence to foreigners who have applied for public assistance or subsidies, such as food stamps, housing assistance or cash.

Thanks to this new rule, the government will now have more flexibility in denying visas or residences if applicants or family members will benefit from public assistance, including, for example: Medicaid, feeding programs for Children or food vouchers.

Who will be the most affected?

Immigrants suffering from chronic, old, poorly educated or low-income diseases are on the list of the main affected by the new ‘public charge’ rule.

Different organizations assure that if the applicants are too old or ill, if they do not have the appropriate studies and the officials in charge of authorizing the visa or residence consider that they can become a ‘public charge’, most likely they will deny him the Procedure.

The new rule radically alters the way in which USCIS officials and the State Department will select visa or green card applicants for inadmissibility due to the new definition of ‘Public Charge’, warns a study prepared by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), one of the most important pro-immigrant organizations in the country.

What benefits will be taken into account?

According to CLINIC these are the non-monetary benefits that, if they were or are received during the last three years, would become a negative factor:

  • Subsidized health insurance under the Low Price Health Care Law;
  • Medicaid (non-emergency services);
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps);
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP or SCHIP);
  • Housing assistance;
  • Energy benefits (such as help to pay for electricity); Y,
  • Tax Credit for Income from Work (when it exceeds the tax obligation).

Other public aid that can be considered as a negative factor are:

  • He has the age to work, is authorized to work, but is currently unemployed;
  • You have no employment history or reasonable prospects for future employment;
  • He currently receives public benefits;
  • He has received public benefits for more than six months during the past three years;
  • You have an expensive medical condition and do not have unsubsidized health insurance or other apparent means of paying for treatment costs; or
  • Has a spouse or parent who is the main beneficiary and has been declared inadmissible based on ‘Public Charge’.

Who will not be affected?

These are immigrants who will not be affected by the new public charge rule and who received protection from humanitarian programs authorized by Congress:

  • Refugees and asylees
  • Afghan and Iraqi interpreters or Afghan or Iraqi citizens employed by or on behalf of the United States Government.
  • Cubans and Haitians who obtained adjustment of status under the Immigration Reform of the Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).
  • Foreigners requesting adjustment of status in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Law.
  • Nicaraguans and other Central Americans who are adjusting their status in accordance with section 202 (a) Section 203 of the NACARA Act.
  • Immigrants covered under the Special Youth Program (SIJ). 
  • Foreigners who entered the United States before January 1, 1972 and meet and who are eligible to obtain residency in accordance with Article 249 of the Immigration Law (INA).
  • Nonimmigrants victims of human trafficking requesting Visa T.
  • Nonimmigrants victims of crimes requesting the U visa.
  • Victims of domestic abuse petitioner of amparo under the VAWA Act.
  • Foreigners who adjust status under the National Defense Authorization Law for fiscal year 2004.

The government has also warned that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “will interpret the minimum legal factors to determine whether, in the opinion of the agent or official deciding a case, it determines that it is likely that the foreigner at any time can become a burden public ”.


USCIS will not consider the request, certification or approval of a foreigner to receive or have received certain non-monetary public benefits (such as SNAP, most types of Medicaid, and public housing) before February 24, 2020.

Likewise, when determining inadmissibility due to public charges, USCIS will not consider the receipt of public benefits previously included (such as SSI and TANF) as a major negative factor, before February 24, 2020.

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