On January 30, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the implementation of the Inadmissibly on Public Charge Grounds final rule. Following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, the rule is now scheduled to go into effect for all 50 states on February 24, 2020.
Immigration officials use the “Public Charge” test to determine if someone applying for entry or lawful permanent residency (a green card) is likely to become dependent on the government for support. Officials look at a “totality of circumstances” to make this determination, including an applicant’s financial status, health, education / skills, family situation, and whether they have an Affidavit of Support from a U.S.-based sponsor.
Previously, use of only two supportive services would negatively impact a person’s Public Charge test: receipt of government cash assistance (ex.: TANF or SSI) and/or residence in a government-funded long-term care facility.
The new rule makes substantive changes to the Public Charge test. Negative weight will be assigned to applicants younger than 18 or older than 61, or those with an income less than 125% FPL. Use of the following benefits on or after February 24th could negatively impact a person’s green card application: Cash Assistance, government-funded long-term care, SNAP, housing assistance (such as Section 8 vouchers or rental assistance or public housing), Medicaid / AHCCCS (with exceptions for emergent medical care, pregnant women up to 60 days postpartum, children under age 21, some school-based services, and services provided through the Disabilities Education Act).
The rule also modifies the definition of “Public Charge.” The previous definition applied to applicants deemed likely to become substantially dependent on the government for subsistence. Under the new rule, a person who is deemed likely to use any of the benefits listed above for an aggregate 12 months out of a 36 month period would be considered a Public Charge. This means that use of SNAP and a Section 8 voucher at the same time for a duration of six months would count for a total of 12 aggregate months.
It is important to note that this test does not apply to all immigrants. More information is available about who is subject to Public Charge determination in both Spanish and English. Click here to view additional resources.
If you have specific questions or concerns, please consult an immigration attorney. Click here to view a directory of Arizona immigration resources.
Litigation is ongoing in the lower courts. Wildfire will continue to keep you updated about advocacy opportunities pertaining to Public Charge.