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USCIS Issues Final Regulations on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

The Trump Administration recently proposed a new “Public Charge” rule, which would allow the government to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on their use of public programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

In line with this new proposal, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, (USCIS) has proposed a rule which dramatically changes the standard of whether an applicant for admission to the US or for adjustment of status is likely to become a “public charge”. Although “public charge” is not defined in immigration law, it means a person who is or is likely to become “primarily dependent” on “public cash assistance for income maintenance" or "institutionalized for long-term care at government expense. The new public charge DHS rule takes effect on October 15, 2019.

Please note the following definitions and tests will be included in the new public charge rule:

Forward-Looking Test. The following persons will now be deemed inadmissible if they are “more likely than not at any time in the future to become a public charge” :

(i) adjustment of status applicants; (ii) nonimmigrants being inspected for admission to the United States at a port of entry; (iii) persons with immigrant visas at a port of entry; (iv) lawful permanent residents returning to the United States after six months or more; and (v) persons who are seeking admission and entering without inspection.

Backward-Looking Test. This rule is applied for nonimmigrants seeking either a change or extension of status. For such a category, USCIS will be looking at whether the beneficiary received in the past one or more public benefits “for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period” before USCIS decides the change or extension of status request.

Public Benefits which are subject to a new “public charge” rule include any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance (social security income, temporarily assistance for needy families); supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP); public housing under section 9 of the US Housing ACT OF 1937 and others.

The rule will not be applied to US citizens and to certain categories such as refugees, asylum applicants, Amerasian applicants and others.

For more details on new regulations, see this link.

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