On January 27, 2019, the United States Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction barring the government from widening its scrutiny on immigrants who are deemed as likely to become a public charge. The Supreme Court order lifting the injunction means that the Trump administration may proceed with plans to restrict residency to a wider group of immigrants who receive government benefits or who come from disadvantaged groups, including the young, elderly, and the poor.
Immigration laws restrict immigrant’s ability to gain residency if they are likely to become a public charge but historically this law had been interpreted narrowly to apply only to a narrow group of public benefits. Immigrants could also generally overcome the public charge bar with the use of an affidavit of support from a qualified sponsor.
On October 15, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sought to implement a rule change that expanded its definition of public benefits and who is considered likely to become a public charge. However, several Federal Courts quickly issued nationwide injunctions that barred the government from implementing the changes. The Supreme Court order lifting the injunction means that the federal government may proceed with its plans. The regulatory change will now restrict residency applications for persons who have received a wider group of public benefits, including Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance (among others) for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period. Also, an affidavit of support from a qualified sponsor will no longer be a determinative factor and immigration officers will be instructed to review the totality of the circumstances presented in each case. Officers will consider an individual’s age, education, financial resources, and heath among other factors. The change is expected to largely affect the poor, elderly, and sick
It’s important to note that the rule change does not impact emergency services, medicaid for immigrant children, school based benefits, and benefits for pregnant immigrant mothers.
Immigrant’s may still use these critical benefits and will not be considered a public charge.
If you have ever received any public benefits and are seeking resident status, we encourage you to contact our office at 407-487-4558 and schedule a consultation with our Board Certified Expert, Francisco F. Symphorien-Saavedra.