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New Public Charge Rule: February 2020 Changes

New Public Charge Rule: February 2020 Changes

Changes in the Public Charge Rule will soon come into effect on February 24th. First and foremost, let’s better understand the definition of this legal term. Public Charge Rule is defined as immigrants that the United States government believes will become dependent on public assistance for either monetary reasons or due to a disability.

In short, the US government can deny visas to immigrants they deem likely or liable to become a Public Charge. Thanks to the Legal Aid Society, we have a detailed outline of those changes and how you can be prepared.

Download the Legal Aid Society Guide to understand Public Charge rules here.

public charge rule


Who Should Seek Legal Advice Due To These Changes?

Public Charge does not apply to all immigrants currently seeking lawful permanent residence. Those that should be prepared and consult their attorney are:

  • Those who are in the process of applying for a green card through a family member
  • Those sponsored by a business owned by a family member
  • Those who already have a green card but have traveled abroad for over 180 days.
  • Those with a criminal record who traveled abroad and want to re-enter need to consult their immigration lawyer as well.

For refugees, asylum seekers, Special Immigrant Juveniles and Special Immigrant Visa Holders, there is no need to worry as these groups are exempt from Public Charge screening. Immigrants currently applying for citizenship through naturalization, immigrants who are currently in possession of a green card, and those without a criminal history traveling abroad for less than 180 days also need not worry about these changes.

public charge 2020


Which Benefits Can Negatively Impact Your Application For Permanent Residence?

Under the new Public Charge Rule, there are a number of benefits that can adversely impact your chances of obtaining a green card. Applicants who are receiving cash assistance through SSI, benefit from SNAP, and have federally funded Medicaid can be denied by USCIS. Those benefiting from government-funded long-term institutional care as well as those living in public housing or section 8 will also be negatively affected.

It is important to note that green card applicants that received public assistance prior to the February 24th changes will still be subject to the new Public Charge guidelines. Applicants who do not participate in government assistance can still be considered Public Charge if they are unemployed, have a disability, or are under 18 or over 61. Other economic factors are also taken into consideration under the new Public Charge Rule.

As with any application for a green card, we always recommend seeking the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney. Immigrants who fear they may be considered Public Charge should first ask a lawyer to review their case before deciding how to proceed.

At the Law Offices of Alice Antonovsky, we are grateful to the Legal Aid Society for allowing us to share their Common Questions About Public Charge Rule Changes and Where To Get Help with our clients. For more information, please call and schedule a confidential meeting with us at (212) 729-5720.

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