DHS resumes “public charge” wealth test for green card applicants
Presidnet Trump and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
The Trump administration will reimpose a new wealth and health “public charge” test for green card applicants in the U.S., after the rule was previously blocked by a court injunction in July because of the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Why it matters: The rule could have a drastic impact on the half million or so immigrants in the U.S. who receive green cards — the first step to citizenship — each year. 69% of recent green card recipients had at least one negative public charge factor, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
- Anyone in the U.S. who applied, but has not yet been approved for a green card through DHS on or after Feb. 24 will have to prove they are not likely to rely on certain government benefits in the future.
- Immigration advocates are also concerned that the rule will have a “chilling effect” on immigrants who are eligible for needed public benefits.
Catch up fast: Under the new rule, factors that could potentially hurt an immigrant’s chances at a green card include:
- Not having an income that is 250% of the poverty line, or $76,700 for a family of five. That means some middle-income families would be hit, since $58,300 a year for a family of five is considered a middle-level income, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Being older than 61 or younger than 18.
- Having medical issues, especially if uninsured.
- Not having private health insurance.
- Not being a full-time student or employed.
- Not speaking English proficiently.
- Having a mortgage, car loan or credit card debt.
Between the lines: A federal judge in New York blocked the enforcement of the rule during the coronavirus pandemic in late July.
- On Sept. 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York granted a full stay of the injunction.
What to watch: A similar State Department rule is still being blocked by the courts.
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