Immigration Law Alert: Administration Proposes New Rules to Test “Public Charge”

The Trump Administration has proposed changes to the ‘public charge’ rule that could have far-reaching implications on the legal immigration process.

Historically, immigrants to the United States seeking permanent resident status have had to show they will not become a ‘public charge’ in the near future. This requirement is designed to screen immigrants who might require public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income or General Assistance. At present, the ‘public charge’ test is met if the immigrant has income in excess of 125% of the poverty level for the immigrant’s household size or compensating assets. In family-based immigration cases, this is typically confirmed by an Affidavit of Support filed by the petitioning relative. When the petitioning relative’s income and compensating assets do not meet the ‘public charge’ test, an additional Affidavit of Support is filed by a third party. These Affidavits establish that there are necessary support systems in place to provide self-sufficiency to the immigrant until he/she qualifies for U.S. citizenship. In employment-based cases, an offer of employment with income in excess of 125% of the poverty level for the immigrant’s household size is normally sufficient.

This objective analysis of the ‘public charge’ possibility is likely to change.

The Trump administration has proposed new rules to test ‘public charge.’ The proposed rule establishes a subjective Totality of the Circumstances Test, which will address various factors, including earning potential, family size, age, health, English language proficiency, education, job history, financial assets and resources. Immigration officers will be charged with determining the likelihood that the intending immigrant will become a ‘public charge,’ essentially adding a step to an already complicated process.

For more information on these proposed changes, or to discuss other immigration matters, please contact Joel Pfeffer, Elaina Smiley, or Gary Sanderson. Links to their contact information are included below.

This material is for informational purposes only.  It is not and should not be solely relied on as legal advice in dealing with any specific situation.