A new rule that is set to make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain green cards (permanent residency) and citizenship among other immigration benefits is set to go into effect next week.
The rule, titled ‘Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” and initially pushed on the Federal Register on August 14, 2019, is set to go into effect on Tuesday, October 15th. It clarifies factors that will be used by the US government to determine an individual who is a public charge or is likely to become a public charge. Being classified as a public charge or potential public charge will make an individual ineligible for admission to the US or to adjust their immigration status.
“The rule applies to applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent residents from within the United States, and aliens within the United States who hold a nonimmigrant visa and seek to extend their stay in the same nonimmigrant classification or to change their status to a different nonimmigrant classification,” the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says.
The Trump administration says an immigrant who use public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, or public housing will be considered a “public charge” and will thus be ineligible to adjust status.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” USCIS Acting director Ken Cuccinelli said at the unveiling of the rule in August.
USCIS says it will not consider Medicaid benefits received: (1) for the treatment of an “emergency medical condition,” (2) as services or benefits provided in connection with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (3) as school-based services or benefits provided to individuals who are at or below the oldest age eligible for secondary education as determined under State or local law, (4) by aliens under the age of 21, and (5) by pregnant women and by women within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.
Analysts say the new move could dramatically reduce family-based legal immigration from Mexico, Central America and Africa, where intending green card holders are economically disadvantaged.
Under US law, only US citizens and legal permanent residents who have had their green cards for at least five years are eligible to apply for federal public benefits.