Proposed ‘Public Charge’ Rule Changes Could Impact Immigrants’ Admissibility

The Trump administration has proposed a new set of federal regulations that would redefine a “public charge” and have a direct impact on immigration policy. Prospective immigrants can be deemed inadmissible to the United States if they are deemed a public charge. Current regulations define a public charge as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. This can be demonstrated by using public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term cases at the government’s expense. 

The new regulations proposed by the Trump administration would change the way the U.S. decides whether or not an immigrant is considered a public charge. Under the proposed regulations, the definition of a public charge would be expanded to mean an immigrant who receives any government aid. Not only would cash programs be scrutinized, but the government would also take into consideration non-cash benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Section 8 housing and rental assistance, among others. 

If these proposed changes became policy, they would apply to Green Card applicants and many foreign nationals seeking or attempting to extend temporary visas. Proponents of these changes argue that these proposed changes could save U.S. taxpayers $2.7 billion a year, while critics voice concern over the possible discriminatory effects of these changes that would ultimately impact low-skilled and low-income immigrants. 

The proposed rules were published on October 10th, setting off a 60-day period for public comments and feedback. During this period, legislators, advocacy groups and the public can voice their opinions. Once this comment period is closed, the government will consider the public’s feedback and issue a final rule. In rare cases, this process can be sped up, but generally takes several months. 

If you have questions on this, please be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today. 

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