DHS has finally codified the new public charge rule, which helps an immigration officer determine when an applicant for a green card is likely to become a public charge and therefore ineligible for permanent residence. The new rule replaces the one created by the Trump administration, which was criticized for expanding the reasons for labeling someone as a public charge and deterring many qualified individuals from applying for a green card. The new rule reflects many of the policies that existed prior to the Trump public charge rule.
The new rule will take effect on December 23. Under the new standard, a person who is likely to become a public charge is someone who primarily relies on the government for subsistence. This is based on a person’s receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance for income maintenance, or long-term institutionalization at government expense. Other factors include age, health, financial status, education, and the filing of an Affidavit of Support required by law.
Some categories of noncitizens are not subject to the public charge rule and cannot be denied lawful permanent residence based on such ground. This includes refugees, asylees, TPS registrants, VAWA applicants, special immigration juveniles, and T and U nonimmigrants (victims of human trafficking and certain crimes).
It is important to know that most noncitizens who are eligible for public benefits would not be disqualified for a green card. But if you are unsure or have questions, please consult with an immigration lawyer.