The New Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility Rule

On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump announced new rules for immigration officials to decide if an individual is inadmissible to the U.S. based on the likelihood of them becoming public charges. What this means is that the federal government now has the power to prevent certain individuals from entering the U.S. or granting them permanent resident status (i.e. a green card) based on the probability of him or her using programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), non-emergency Medicaid, or any number of housing assistance programs.

These changes are designed to create new barriers to getting a green card or entering the U.S. to anyone who is deemed unable to support him or herself without assistance from the government. Although public charge determinations for immigration purposes were in place before the Trump administration, the previous policy did not consider programs such as CHIP, Medicaid, or other non-cash assistance programs when determining public charge eligibility. All this is due to change, however, under the new much stricter public charge rules announced by the Trump Administration on August 14, 2019.

Who Do These Changes Affect?

The new rule will affect individuals applying for permanent resident status (i.e. becoming a green card holder) and other individuals applying to immigrate to the U.S. from abroad. Additionally, officers can evaluate you based on your age, education, skills, and family income to deny you for perceived likelihood of becoming a public charge in the future. Certain immigrant groups such as asylees, refugees and other humanitarian immigrants remain exempt from the updated August 14 public charge determination rules. Permanent residents (green-card holders) seeking to obtain citizenship are also exempt from the new public charge policies.

Do you have any concerns about this rule change? Are you worried that it could affect you or your loved ones’ application filings? Please contact a qualified immigration attorney and get the guidance you need.