WHAT is Public Charge and why is it a hot topic right now? Public Charge has been an aspect of US Immigration Law for over 100 years and is part of what allows immigration officials to determine who is granted visas, green cards, and citizenship. An announced change to Public Charge (Department of Homeland Security: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds) was published by the Trump Administration on Wednesday, August 14th. The proposed changes would allow federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who are LIKELY IN THE FUTURE to receive certain public benefits.
WHEN does Public Charge come up? The Public Charge Assessment happens when a person: applies to enter the US, applies to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (obtaining a green card), or a green card holder leaves the US for more than 180 consecutive days (6 months) and reenters. Most immigrants are not eligible for public benefits for up to 5 years; the new Public Charge rule would determine if individuals would likely use Public Benefits when in the US, based on certain criteria.
WHICH Public Benefits are examined? Utilizing the following public benefits could make a recipient subject to the Public Charge Test: CalFresh (SNAP)/Food Stamps, CalWorks (TANF/Cash Aid), Medicaid*, and Housing Assistance (Public Housing, Section 8, Rental Assistance). Those who would be impacted by this rule change are individuals, deemed by the Public Charge Test, to be more likely than not to receive public benefits for a cumulative 12 months or longer during a 36-month period. Two separate benefits (such as SNAP and housing assistance) used during the same month, count as 2 months out of the 12 months.
WHO is NOT affected? Public Charge does NOT affect everyone. The following individuals are not subject to the Public Charge Test: Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) who are applying for citizenship, Active-Duty Service members and their spouses and kids, recipients of Children’s Health Insurance Program, users of Medicaid who are either pregnant or children*, Medicare Part D (prescription drug subsidy program) recipients, WIC recipients, Pell Grant recipients, Refugees, Asylees, individuals with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, VAWA self-petitioners, U or T visa applicants/holders, and certain parolees.
WHAT is the Public Charge Test criteria? The test would take into account: age, health, family status, financial resources, education, and skills. Immigration officials would grant a positive and a negative score for an individual in each section when making their determination of the Public Charge Test results.
WHEN and WHERE does this happen? This is a federal proposal and therefore would impact Californians who are enrolled in the public benefits listed above and are seeking to change their immigration status on or after October 15th, 2019. This proposal was posted by the Trump Administration on Wednesday, August 14th and will be officially published on October 15th, unless litigation prevents publication. Any public benefit that one applies for or uses ON or AFTER October 15th, 2019 could subject one to the Public Charge Test. Any benefit usage or application to change immigration status submitted prior to October 15th, 2019 will NOT be subjected to the Public Charge Test.
WHAT is changing from the current Public Charge rule?: This new proposal is forward-looking, meaning the assessment will judge if an individual is more likely than not to rely on public assistance in the future. Additionally, more types of public benefits would be taken into consideration by immigration officials.
Next steps for those impacted?: Remember the rule is not yet finalized and litigation may prevent it from becoming law prior to October 15th, 2019. Each person and their set of circumstances is unique and advice given to one individual doesn’t apply to all; seek advice from professionals and immigration attorneys. Continue using the benefits you and your family need to remain healthy, strong and employable. Engage in community education to know your rights and become knowledgeable about what you can do. REMEMBER: THIS PUBLIC CHARGE TEST WOULD NOT LOOK AT BENEFITS USED BEFORE OCTOBER 15TH, 2019. This will affect those who apply to change their immigration status (in one of the above categories) on or after October 15th, 2019 and are deemed likely to use public benefits in the future when they’d be eligible.
Questions? Contact Cassidie Bates at [email protected] or 925-334-2766.