Have you chosen not to get medical treatment or government assistance because of the new public charge rule?
In effect since February of 2020, the new public charge rule essentially categorizes individuals as “public charges” if they receive certain benefits for more than 12 total months in a 36-month period. Adjudicating officers can also assess other factors to make this determination, such as socioeconomic status, family ties, employment, education, and much more.
If an adjudicating officer decides that a visa or green card applicant is (or could, at any point, become) a public charge, they can deny their petition or application based on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility.
Protests against this new rule were fierce as soon as it was proposed, but they reached new levels because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping case numbers and the death rate low requires entire communities to stay as healthy as possible, but this rule essentially encourages foreign citizens in the U.S. to forego medical treatment if they would need public assistance to pay for it. These individuals are making a decision, therefore, between essential care and their future immigration status.
When the President declared a national emergency due to the pandemic, USCIS amended its public charge page to urge all individuals to seek medical treatment. Even if they use government assistance to pay for it, the alert said, their eligibility for lawful permanent residence would not be jeopardized.
But the alert was not entirely clear, and many have simply chosen not to risk it. To respond to this issue, a federal judge in New York issued an injunction at the end of July that has halted the implementation of the public charge rule for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency. In other words, the Department of Homeland Security cannot reject a petition or application based on the new public charge grounds of inadmissibility so long as the national emergency is in effect.
The future of this injunction is uncertain. It may be overturned before the end of the pandemic, but immigrant advocacy groups are hopeful that lower courts will continue to fight against the Trump administration’s efforts to curb legal immigration.
Come to Our Firm for More Information
The U.S. government is making seemingly constant changes to the immigration system, but our team at Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. is here to help you overcome these challenges. No matter what type of status or benefit you seek, we have the experience, knowledge, and strategies needed to give your case the highest possible likelihood of success. We believe you have every right to access the opportunities of the United States, which is why we are prepared to go to bat for your future.