The public charge rollercoaster continues. On July 29, 2020, Federal District Judge George Daniels issued a nationwide injunction, preventing the Trump Administration from enforcing its public charge rule until after the COVID-19. Unfortunately, on August 12, 2020 the Second Circuit court of appeals allowed the rule to go forward in all states besides New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Although this ruling comes as a great victory for the Trump Administration, the public charge rule gravely impacts immigrants and their families. As a result of this ruling, immigrants in the remaining 47 states may once again be forced to choose between their immigration status and their health and safety.
What is the Public Charge Rule?
The public charge rule allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny a visa or green card if it believes the applicant is likely to become dependent on government support in the future. The Trump Administration greatly increased the number of people who will be excluded under this rule and imposed onerous documentation requirements on applicants and their families. This decision to deny a visa on public charge ground can be based on many factors, including an applicant’s education level, English ability, or family size; whether an applicant’s income level is above 250% of the poverty line; or if an applicant has received government assistance, such as food stamps, housing vouchers, health insurance, and other public non-cash benefits. Anyone who has received one or more public benefits for a total of 12 months within a 36-month period could be considered a public charge. Additionally, if an applicant receives two benefits in a single month, it is counted as receiving two months of benefits.
Who Does it Affect?
The new Public Charge rule went into effect on February 24, 2020, and affects the following classes of immigrants:
- – Immigrants applying for a visa extension
- – Individuals abroad applying to come to the United States
- – Immigrants in the United States applying for permanent residency, or a green card
The following individuals are exempt from the public charge rule:
- – Refugees
- – Asylees
- – U-visas
- – T-visas
- – VAWA applicants
- – Special Immigrant Juveniles
- – Others who have been granted a waiver by the DHS
The public charge rule has caused panic and confusion amongst immigrant communities, as its implementation is unclear and unsettling. If you have any questions about how the public charge rule may impact you, contact an experienced immigration attorney at Minsky McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.