The Public Charge Rule: an Obstacle to the Green Card

If you are seeking US permanent resident status (green card), your I-485 application will be denied if you are deemed likely to become a public charge. This also applies if you are seeking to extend your non-immigrant status, such as an H-1B extension. If you desire to adjust or extend your immigration status, and you have concerns about the public charge rule, contact the experienced attorneys at the The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates. Our lawyers have more than 50 years of combined experience.

What is a public charge?

Under the immigration law, a foreign national who is deemed to be a “public charge” is inadmissible to the United States. You may be deemed to be a public charge if you have either (1) received public cash assistance for income maintenance, or (2) if you were institutionalized for long-term care at government expense.

Which public benefits will cause me to be a public charge?

Types of cash assistance that may cause you a public charge include: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), state and local government assistance programs, and programs such as Medicaid that provide support for long-term institutionalized care.

Are there benefits that will not cause me to be a public charge?

Generally, non-cash benefits will not count toward a public charge determination unless they are for long-term institutionalized care. Public benefits that are supplemental in nature rather than primary income support do not count. These include: Medicaid and other health benefits, food stamp programs and WIC, children's health insurance program (CHIP), child care assistance, housing benefits, foster care and adoption assistance, job training programs, emergency disaster relief, energy assistance such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and other community-based program such as a shelter or soup kitchen.

Form I-864 Affidavit of Support

If you are applying for a green card or an immigrant visa in certain family-based cases, you file a Form I-864 Affidavit of Support in order to show that you have the financial resources to reside in the United States without government benefits. The form is signed by someone who will be your sponsor. A sponsor must have an annual income of at least 125 percent of the federal poverty level. This form is required for all family-based preference categories and for employment-based categories when work will be performed for a relative or for a company where relative holds at least a 5 percent ownership.

Exempt Immigration categories

Certain immigration categories are exempt from the public charge rule. These include: refugees and asylum applicants, Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), T Visa, U Visa, Nicaragua and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), Amerasian Immigrants, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and LIFE Act Provisions. If you have questions regarding the public charge rule, please call our immigration attorneys or contact The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA to consult with an attorney at the nearest office close to you.

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