When applying for legal permanent residency a “public charge” is an intending immigrant who is expected to primarily subsist off public cash assistance. These individuals are often denied green cards when they apply for residency, but the definition of a public charge could soon change.
A proposal from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expands the definition of public charge. Any immigrant that has used public assistance beyond 15 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines could be disqualified from permanent residency. DHS has also stated that using public benefits for a total 12-months within a 36-month period will also disqualify a green card applicant. These changes are causing quite a bit of anxiety for intending immigrants.
Health programs such as California’s version of Medicare (Medi-Cal), earned income tax credit (EITC), Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and even Affordable Care Act subsidies could fall under such a regulation. The full proposal can be viewed on the Federal Register, and comments must be received on or before December 10, 2018. The immigration attorneys at Fok Immigration Law will keep a close eye on this proposal to let you know when and if these policies will be enacted.