Shrinking Oceans and Cutting Red Tape in Pursuit of the American Dream

Immigration Law Blog

Blog on immigration law information, issues and news.

What is the “public charge” rule change and what does it mean?

In recent news, the Trump Administration has proposed a rule change in regards to what qualifies as a “public charge” and at risk of getting their permanent residence application denied. In accordance to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official website a “public charge” is defined as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. This proposed rule change to the public charge would primarily affect non-citizens applying for lawful permanent residence in the United States. The proposed rule change would allow official immigration authorities to deny people the opportunity to apply for a green card or in some cases take away their green card. Some of the programs included in their list for disqualifying applicants are Medicaid, Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance (Section 8 housing vouchers), to name a few. The federal poverty level for the family income threshold would increase to 250% from its current 125% requirement. 

What the Trump Administration actually is seeking to accomplish with this rule change is to make legal immigration unattainable for many non-citizens. By including more public service programs into their list for determining whether or not a legal immigrant will be a public charge they are essentially denying them help that so many citizens rely on to survive. These programs are put into place to help struggling families who qualify for them. With their proposal to increase the poverty level the administration is setting these families up for future struggles. Families are forced to choose between seeking the medical needs of a family member, who is a citizen, or potentially having their chances of applying for a green card or having that green card revoked. A family should never have to be put in this form of situation. Though nothing is set in stone as of right now it is always wise to seek legal advice if you have any questions regarding the public charge topic. 

Mercedes Riggs