On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published a final regulation that would have radically changed the way that USCIS considers certain benefits used by immigrants in determining whether they are a “public charge” and therefore not eligible for permanent residency (i.e. a green card). The Trump administration’s gross redefinition of the term “public charge” includes foreign nationals that “receive public benefits for more than twelve months in the aggregate in any 36-month period, such that the receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months”. The rule, which was to go into effect on October 15, 2019, was fortunately temporarily blocked by several courts. For now, the USCIS cannot consider green card applications under the new rule and it is unclear whether the temporary injunction will end or become permanent.
In addition to this rule, President Trump also issued a proclamation on October 4, 2019, that requires that beginning on November 3, 2019, individuals applying for permanent residency (i.e. immigrant visas) at U.S. Consulates abroad be required to provide evidence of their ability to obtain unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days of admission to the U.S. as permanent residents or risk denial. The proclamation gave very little information regarding how an individual would set out to prove meeting this requirement and gives consular officers even more discretion in denying immigrant visa. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the new requirement could result in approximately 375,000 immigrant visa denials each year. Fortunately, on October 30, 2019, several organizations filed a class action lawsuit in federal court challenging the proclamation and seeking an injunction to block it. On November 3, 2019, a Judge Michael Simon blocked the public health care proclamation from going into effect, at least temporarily. This decision is not a final ruling. As of right now, no changes will go into effect, but a final decision will be made on the President’s proclamation in the future.
For more information on the status of the “public charge” rule and the health insurance proclamation, please contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan.