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What is “Public Charge Inadmissibility”? Will it apply to me?

Inadmissibility is when a foreign national is not allowed to enter or stay in the United States.

Inadmissibility applies when an individual is trying to enter or stay in the country through either the consular process (obtaining a visa) or through adjustment of status (obtaining a green card). There are various categories that can make a person inadmissible, such as:

  • Health
  • Criminal Reasons
  • National Security Reasons
  • Likely to become a Public Charge
  • Lack of Labor Certification
  • Fraud or Misrepresentation
  • Prior removals and/or unlawful presence
  • Other Miscellaneous Grounds

In the Public Charge category of inadmissibility, an immigration official may  find an individual  likely to become dependent on certain government services based on a number of factors. Immigration officials will use the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility to deny a foreign national in their process to obtain a Visa through Consular Processing or Legal Permanent Residency through Adjustment of Status (green card).

Finding that a person is likely to be a “Public Charge” has been a part of immigration law through the implementation of the Immigration Act of 1891. However, on August 14, 2019 the Department of Homeland Security issued new regulations governing how the category of “Public Charge” will be enforced. The new regulations made it more difficult for non-citizens to show they are likely to be a “public charge.” Despite attempts to stop the new regulations, the Supreme Court ruled to allow the regulations to go into effect while the lower courts decide its legality. 

On February 24, 2020, the USCIS will implement the changed regulations and start enforcing them on applications from that date onward. 

The benefits that would make an individual inadmissible are mainly cash assistance programs or long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense. If the benefits are for an individual that isn’t the applicant, such as for the applicant’s child or parent, then the inadmissibility does not apply. Not all benefits will make an individual inadmissible and there are exceptions to the use of benefits. 

Below is a chart of what Public Charge will affect, along with exceptions to Public Charge inadmissibility.

If you have questions about the benefit you are receiving contact our office for a free consultation. 

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