FAQs About the Public Charge Rule

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FAQs About the Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule mandated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that immigrants coming to the United States cannot rely financially on the government to support them. The public charge rule applies to all individuals coming into the United States, but it is largely misunderstood. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the public charge rule and their answers.

Is the Public Charge Rule New?

The public charge rule is not new. Congress passed the law in 1882, and it has been in place since that time. However, the USCIS made the rule more restrictive in early 2020. The new rule is more restrictive than it was in the past, as it requires a test that considers the totality of the circumstances to determine if an immigrant is likely to become a public charge at any time after they enter the United States.

How is it Determined if a Person is a Public Charge?

When determining if a person is a public charge, the USCIS considers each case individually and applies the determination test that has two distinct parts. The first determines if the person has received a public benefit at any time in the past. The second part of the test is much more vague, as it only considers whether the individual is likely to become a public charge in the future.

What Public Benefits Deem a Person a Public Charge?

Not all public benefits deem a potential immigrant as a public charge. The benefits that make a person ineligible include:

  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance 
  • Public housing under Section 9 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families 
  • Medicaid

To be considered a public charge, a person must receive these benefits for 12 months out of a 36-month period.

Which Benefits are Not Considered Under the Public Charge Rule?

Again, certain benefits do not deem someone as a public charge. Benefits that will not affect a person’s immigration status include:

Intending immigrants can receive these benefits without fear of having their status impacted.

Who can be Deemed a Public Charge?

Many people think that all immigration applicants are subject to the public charge rule, but that is not true. Certain applicants are exempt from the public charge rule, including:

  • Asylees
  • U Visa applicants
  • VAWA applicants
  • Refugees
  • T Visa applicants
  • Special immigrant juveniles
  • Amerasian immigrants
  • Applicants under certain acts, including the Cuban Adjustment Act
  • Afghan and Iraqi special interpreters

Our Illinois Immigration Lawyers can Help With Your Case

People need financial support from time to time, which is what makes the public charge rule so difficult. If you need help determining if you are considered a public charge, or with any other aspect of your case, call our Chicago immigration lawyers at Kriezelman, Burton & Associates, LLC. We will help you through the complicated immigration system and give you the best chance of success with your case. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.