On August 14th, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released new public charge–related instructions that will allow USCIS officials to deny green cards and visas for applicants who are likely to rely on public assistance benefits. As a result of the announcement, immigrants throughout the country who receive food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid are worried that their status may be affected if the public charge rule goes into effect on October 15th. Below, we answer some of the common questions our clients have asked us about the new public charge rule:
Question: What is a “public charge”?
A: The term public charge refers to a person who is primarily dependent on government assistance for financial support. The new rule will broaden this definition to include those who rely on one or more of the following programs:
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Section 8 Housing Assistance
- Federally Subsidized Housing
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- “General Assistance" Programs
Question: How does USCIS determine a public charge?
A: USCIS looks at the following things to determine if a visa or green card applicant will likely be a public charge:
- Family Status
- Financial Status
- Special Skills
- Affidavit of Support
Question: What is an “affidavit of support”?
A: An affidavit of support is a contract that is signed by the immigrant’s sponsor stating they accept financial responsibility for the immigrant coming to the U.S.
Question: What if an applicant’s family member receives public assistance?
A: Under the new rule, applicants are not penalized if they have family members who receive government benefits. This means your family members don’t have to opt-out of their benefits if you are applying for citizenship or a visa.
Talk to Our Immigration Attorneys about Your Case
Our legal team at Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. is committed to serving clients throughout Cleveland, and we are prepared to guide you through each step of the immigration process. Get in touch with our law firm to discuss your situation so we can build a strong legal strategy that protects your rights and interests.
Call us today at (888) 491-8770 to request your case consultation with one of our immigration lawyers.