When it comes to getting your green card and obtaining permanent residency in the United States, there are many hurdles that you must overcome. The Public Charge Rule, however, may be the most common reason a green card is denied, and the most difficult rule to apply.
Although every immigration interview is different, if you are interested in determining how the Public Charge Rule might apply to your situation, reviewing the questions and answers below is a good place to start.
A public charge is someone who needs assistance from the government to survive. Historically, United States immigration law has required green card applicants to be self-sufficient and able to care for themselves as a prerequisite to becoming permanent U.S. residents.
The purpose of the Public Charge Rule is to determine whether green card applicants have the ability and means to care for themselves without certain public benefits provided by the government.
In 2020, the Public Charge Rule was modified by the Trump administration. In theory, the changes make it more difficult on the green card applicant, but it will take time to see how much of a difference the changes make.
In addition to all the documents necessary for your specific green card application, you will also need to furnish an I-944 form. However, some courts have blocked the US CIS from implementing this I-944 form. Presently, it is an ongoing court battle where some specific states do not have to file the I-944 form.
The purpose of this document is to show that you can support yourself and your household without government assistance.
In general, the rule applies to those seeking permanent residency through an:
There are several different types of applicants who are not subject to the rule, including:
The rule focuses on the probability that you could become a public charge at any time in the future. In general, you will be deemed a public charge if you have received, or it is more likely than not that you will receive, at any time in the future:
The adjudications officer will determine whether it is more likely than not that you will receive one or more public benefits in the future by applying a totality of the circumstances test.
In addition to all documents that are part of the green card process, the adjudications officer will consider your:
No single factor is determinative. All factors will be considered when determining whether you are a public charge.
Things that could really count against you include being too young or too old to have a productive career and having a medical condition that is likely to require extensive treatment.
Applicants must also demonstrate a household income of at least 125% above the federal poverty guidelines. Proof of income 250% above the poverty guidelines would be heavily weighted in your favor.
As stated above, you will be deemed a public charge if you have received, or it is more likely than not that you will receive, at any time in the future:
The public benefits that the adjudications officer is authorized to consider include:
Generally, any federal, state, local or tribal cash benefit program for income maintenance will be considered.
The following benefits will not be considered by the adjudications officer:
Most benefits received by service members and their families are also exempt.
Medicaid benefits received in any of the following circumstances will not count against you:
In general, COVID-19 is not part of the public charge inadmissibility determination. The adjudications officer will not consider COVID-19:
This is true even if the treatment obtained through a government program, such as Medicaid.
The Public Charge Rule might sound complicated and somewhat intimidating, but at the end of the day just remember your goal is simple: prove that you can support yourself and your family. Make sure you submit your I-944 form on time and begin saving copies of documents early in the process that you can use to show that you are self-sufficient. The Public Charge Rule is an issue to be concerned about but one that can be overcome.
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