The public charge rule has been part of the U.S. immigration process for over a century, as a way of determining whether noncitizens are inadmissible to the United States based on their likelihood of becoming a public charge. In 2019, the Trump administration expanded the scope of the public charge rule making it more difficult for immigrants to get permanent U.S. resident status if they had received or were expected to receive food assistance, Medicaid, housing assistance, or other public benefits. The 2019 rule received a lot of criticism for being discriminatory and negatively impacting millions of immigrant families by deterring them from receiving healthcare and public assistance.
In March 2021, the Biden administration announced that the Trump-era public charge rule would no longer be in effect and that a new public charge rule would be implemented. The Biden administration’s new public charge rule finally went into effect on December 23, 2022. The new public charge clearly outlines what is and what is not considered in the public charge determination so that immigrants are not deterred from receiving public assistance to keep their families safe and healthy. USCIS recently issued guidance on the new public charge rule and confirmed that the goal is to reduce the confusion and fear that may have prevented immigrants and their families, including their children, from obtaining access to critical government services available to them under the Trump-era public charge rule.
Here are some key takeaways from USCIS guidance on the new public charge rule:
What public benefit programs are considered in the new public charge rule?
USCIS will consider an applicant’s current and/or past receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance which includes the following:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
- Cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and
- State and local cash assistance programs that provide benefits for income maintenance (often called ‘‘General Assistance’’ programs).
- Applicant’s institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, such as in a nursing home or mental health institution.
See full list here
What public benefit programs are not considered in the new public charge rule?
USCIS will not consider non-cash benefits such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other nutrition programs
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Medicaid (other than support for long-term institutional care)
- Health Insurance through the Affordable Care Act
- Housing benefits
- Programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter) provided by local communities or through public or private nonprofit organizations
- Transportation vouchers or other non-cash transportation services
- Job training programs
- Energy assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Guaranteed income programs that are not equivalent to public cash assistance for income maintenance
See full list here
What categories of noncitizens are exempt from the public charge rule?
The new public charge rule lists certain noncitizens such as asylees and refugees, Afghan and Iraqi interpreters or Afghan or Iraqi nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government, Applicants seeking Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Human trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants) and others as exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility.
See full list here
The new public charge rule is a huge improvement from the Trump-era public charge rule but there are still many factors that are considered when determining whether an immigrant can become a legal U.S. permanent resident. If you or your family are in the process of applying for a U.S. Green Card to become a legal U.S. permanent resident, it’s important to make sure you work with an experienced Immigration Attorney. At Verma Law Firm, we have over 25 years of experience in helping immigrants from around the world move permanently to the United States. Contact us for a consultation or call us at (408) 560-4622 so we can help you achieve your dream of becoming a legal U.S. permanent resident.