President Trump Makes it Even Harder to Obtain a Green Card

On Feb 24, 2020, “public charge rule”, the ground of inadmissibility was implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

The concept of public charge was first established in 1882 in order to allow the U.S. immigration officers the possibility to deny a visa to anyone who was likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence”. 

Since 1999, the government has adopted the guiding principle that a public charge is someone who was dependent on the government for “cash” benefits. Under the Trump administration, the concept of public charge has been extended to “non-cash” benefits such as Medicaid, housing assistance or food stamps and more. 

This rule makes it easier for USCIS to deny Green Cards.

The Trump administration has expanded the benchmarks of this public charge rule and it would affect people who are seeking to apply for a Green Card. A lot of people who would have been eligible to get a Green Card in the past can be denied a Green Card based on this public charge rule. 

How does public charge affect people applying for a Green Card?

Here are some top-level changes or updates that will affect people applying for a Green Card.

  • For starters, you might be required to file another form I-944 or I-864 based on your immigrant eligibility category. This is effective from the 24th of February 2020. 
  • Form I-485 has been updated which has new sections and new questions. Older edition of the forms will not be accepted by the USCIS postmarked 24th of February.
  • A public charge test will be conducted for certain categories of immigrants seeking to get a Green Card.

Public charge test

To determine if a person would likely become a Public charge, a test is conducted to determine if someone applying for permanent residence (a “green card”) seems likely to depend on public benefits in the future. If the U.S. government decides that the applicant is likely to become a public charge, the government can deny their Green Card application.

An immigration officer is the one who will conduct the test. The officer would consider different factors, including family income, the applicant’s age and health, how likely the applicant is to be employed, and receipt of certain public benefits before making a decision. 

Some of the factors that are considered “heavily weighted positive factor” which might help you pass the public charge test are:

  • You should have private health insurance appropriate for the expected period of admission in the U.S., so long as you do not receive subsidies to pay for such health insurance. 
  • If you are authorized to work in the U.S., your annual income should be at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size.
  • If you are being sponsored a Green Card by your family member, your sponsor should have an income of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines instead of 125% which was the norm earlier.

Here is an example of the income required calculated based on the federal poverty guideline and the new rule. If your current household is 4 persons then the federal poverty income line for the majority of the states is approximately $26,000. Earlier In order to sponsor a family member, the required household income would be $32,500. However, based on the 250% the income should be $65,000.

Below is an example table containing approximate income required for sponsors based on the number of people in the household.

Example table with values rounded off for easier understanding:

HouseholdPersonsCurrent Poverty LineIncome to be Eligible to Sponsor a Family Member before Feb 24thIncome to be Eligible to Sponsor a Family MemberAfter Feb 24thIncome Increase of
1$12,500$15,625$31,250$15,625
2$17,000$21,250$42,500$21,250
3$21,500$26,875$53,750$26,875
4$26,000$32,500$65,000$32,500
5$30,000$37,500$75,000$37,500

This rule will be applied to most of the Green Card applications postmarked on or after Feb 24, 2020. Green Card petition’s postmarked after the mentioned date which does not adhere to the new public charge rule if the rule is applicable then it will be denied by the USCIS.

So please ensure to send the latest form(s). If you are a customer of Immigration Direct then we do all the heavy lifting for you. We update our software to include the new rules and forms required so that when you prepare your Form I-485 through us you get the latest updated form(s).

Interested in using our software then prepare your Form I-485 today using Immigration Direct.