DHS issues proposed rules on green cards and self-sufficiency

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed rule that will clearly define long-standing law to ensure that those seeking to enter and remain in the U.S. either temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits. Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. must show they can support themselves financially.

The proposed regulation defines a public charge to be a person who receives certain public benefits above certain defined threshold amounts or for longer than certain periods of time. Importantly, by law, the public charge inadmissibility determination is a prospective determination based on the totality of the circumstances, which includes statutorily required factors such as age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education and skills. In making this determination, DHS is proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor. The rule would also make nonimmigrants who receive or are likely to receive designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.

The public benefits designated in the rule are federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an “emergency medical condition,” and for certain disability services related to education), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. The first three benefits listed above are cash benefits that are covered under current policy. Once the proposed rule is officially published, the public will be able to comment on the proposed rule. The comment period will last 60 days, starting on the day the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. The official version in the Federal Register will contain information about how to submit comments. (DHS Release, September 22, 2018; Department of Homeland Security, 8 CFR Parts 103, 212, 213, 214, 245 and 248 [CIS No. 2499-10; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012] RIN 1615-AA22, September 22, 2018; https://www.dhs.gov/publication/proposed-rule-inadmissibility-public-charge-grounds.)

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