“Public charge” refers to an immigrant who is likely to become dependent on government benefits. Immigration officials can deny an individual’s application for a visa or green card if they determine the individual is likely to become a public charge at any time.
The new “Public charge” rule that has been finalized by the Department of Homeland Security will make it harder for immigrants to apply for a green card or visa.
Under the current public charge test, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and General Assistance are counted. The list of benefits that count negatively towards a person’s application has been expanded.
The new list includes:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Section 8 Housing Assistance
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
- Public Housing
The proposed rule will also broaden the definition of public charge from a person “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” to a person “likely at any time in the future to receive one or more public benefit.”
Immigrant families could be faced with an impossible choice: continue using public benefit programs that enable them to stay healthy and stable but risk jeopardizing their immigration application, or forgo vital services like preventative care and food assistance. The best way to build a strong country is to ensure that families have the tools they need to thrive. When immigrants succeed, all our communities succeed.
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