Atlanta, GA– The Department of Homeland Security published last week its new public charge regulations, effectively rolling back the policy instituted under former President Donald Trump that sought to limit immigration benefits for those likely to rely on government aid.
Under the Trump policy, immigrants could be denied legal permanent resident status if they had received or were expected to receive food assistance, Medicaid, housing assistance, or other public benefits. The Biden administration had stopped enforcing that policy in March 2021, but now the DHS offers a clear perspective on how the public charge rule will be used in the years to come.
The new rule applies to non-citizens requesting admission to the U.S. or applying for lawful permanent residence (a “green card”) from within the U.S.
“This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “Consistent with America’s bedrock values, we will not penalize individuals for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them.”
What factors determine public charge status?
Under the new rule which goes into effect on Dec. 23, 2022, a non-citizen would be considered likely to become a public charge if DHS determines that they are likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. This determination will be based on:
The immigrant’s “age; health; family status; assets, resources, and financial status; and education and skills”
The filing of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support submitted on a non-citizen’s behalf when one is required
The immigrant’s prior or current receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI); cash assistance for income maintenance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); State, Tribal, territorial, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance”); or long-term institutionalization at government expense.
Under the new regulations, DHS will not take into account benefits received by family members other than the applicant.
At the same time, DHS will not consider receipt of certain non-cash benefits, for which non-citizens may be eligible. In its published statement, the DHS explains that non-cash benefits refer to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other nutrition programs, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid (other than for long-term institutionalization), housing benefits, any benefits related to immunizations or testing for communicable diseases.
In the months to come, DHS will issue a Policy Manual update, which will be distributed to USCIS field officers to help them apply the new regulations fairly and consistently.
Who needs an Affidavit of Support?
If you’re an American citizen or a legal permanent resident you can help a relative immigrate to the United States by offering to sponsor them, so they do not become a public charge.
Form I-864, also known as Affidavit of Support, is basically a legally enforceable contract an individual signs agreeing to use their financial resources to support the immigrant named on the affidavit.
The sponsor’s responsibility usually lasts until that immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen or is credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).
If you want to help a foreign-born relative come live with you in Georgia, you should reach out to an experienced Atlanta immigration lawyer to help you with the paperwork. You’ll also need help in proving that you are financially capable of supporting the person named in the affidavit until they can earn their own money. This means showing that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.
If you have any problem concerning immigration, you need to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney at the Kuck | Baxter Immigration LLC law firm in Atlanta and let them help you start a new life in Georgia.
365 Northridge Road
Atlanta, GA 30350
Tel : (404) 816-8611
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