What is the Public Charge Rule

“Ultimately, America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity.”—Robert Kennedy

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced a controversial new screening process that will apply to those seeking to enter the US or applying for adjustment of status (Green Card Applications). The Public Charge Rule seeks to bar aliens (Non US Citizens) who are likely to become dependent on public services, known as a public charge, from establishing residence in the US.

DHS defines a public charge as an alien who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period. These services include: income from Social Security, food stamps, housing assistance, and most forms of Medicaid. While an alien’s potential reliance on these services is the primary factor considered, DHS will also look at the applicant’s age, health, financial status, education, and other similar factors.

Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule. This rule will not affect refugees, asylees, and other humanitarian-based programs. Exceptions will also be made for those receiving certain Medicaid benefits, including pregnant women and individuals under 21, as well as those who served in the Armed Forces.

Current lawful permanent residents may not be affected by this rule at this time. However, if a green card holder leaves the US for more than 6 months, they may be subject to the Public Charge Rule upon reentry.

The Public Charge Rule will take effect October 15, 2019. It will only be applied to all applications filed on and after this date.

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