Update: DHS Proposes Changes to Definitions of Public Charge

On September 22, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security released an advance copy of the Public Charge Rogation. It’s important to state that at this time this is a proposed rule change and not a final rule.

Typically when the officer evaluated the application he/she would take into account the applicants financial status. Tax returns, sometimes pay stubs would suffice to make sure the individual sponsoring the applicant would not become a ‘public charge’.

The Law states Section 212(a)(4) of the INA: Any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for a visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible[…] In determining whether an alien is excludable under this paragraph, the consular officer or the Attorney General shall at a minimum consider the alien’s-(I) age; (II) health; (III) family status; (IV) assets, resources, and financial status; and (V) education and skills . . . .”

It is this determination that the proposed rule addresses with what appears to be emphasis on not just the financials but the overall merits of the individual.

This proposed rule change will affect thousands who either were recipients of TANF, received food stamps (SNAP), are very ill or elderly, used Medicaid, are not employable or received public housing (Section 8) within the prior 4 years of filing. These factors are now considered highly negative for applicants. In fact DHS proposes the person be considered a potential public charge if they have used 1 or more of these government services. This does not only apply to change of status seekers, but also people seeking admission in non-immigrant categories e.g B1 or B-2 VISA holders.

As it stands the DHS also proposes a public charge bond (min $10,000) for those inadmissible based on public charge. This proposed rule change is currently in the 60 day comment period before final consideration.