"Public Charge" Proposed Rule Change: Call To Action

The Government is planning to attack immigrant families by changing the "public charge" rule. We have time to fight back by submitting comments, telling our stories, and speaking up!

What is public charge?

To get a “green card” – to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) - the government needs to believe the person applying to immigrate (intending immigrant) will be unlikely to become a "public charge,” meaning, s/he will be able to support her/himself without needing cash assistance from the government.

IMPORTANT: The “public charge” rule does not apply to LPRs applying for US citizenship; refugees; applicants or recipients of asylum; applicants or recipients of visas for survivors of trafficking or domestic violence; people applying for or re-registering for Temporary Protected Status (TPS); and several other types of noncitizens. BUT, this does impact anyone applying for a family-based green card. If someone in these categories wants to petition for a family member to get a green card, it may apply to that family member. Contact an immigration lawyer if you have specific questions.

What does the Government want to change?

- Right now, when deciding if an intending immigrant might become a “public charge” in the future, the government looks at whether he/she has received cash assistance (like TANF or SSI), or government funded long-term care.

- This proposed rule would add non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, and housing assistance, such as public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers and rental assistance – but only for these benefits received by the applicant.

- The proposed rule adds a “heavily positive” factor of an intending immigrant’s household income of at least 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This means a family of 4 might need to earn nearly $63,000 annually to rebut negative factors under the public charge test.

- The proposed rule adds a lot of so-called “negative” factors that would count against the intending immigrant, including not speaking English, having a disability, or having children.

IMPORTANT: This change is only proposed and is NOT in effect yet.  Families should not stop getting benefits that help with basic needs without talking to an immigration lawyer first.

How will this harm Maine communities?

- Experts estimate that this proposal, if finalized, may cut family-based immigration by forty percent.

- The proposal favors people who have a high income, speak English, and have no children. Many hard-working immigrant family members who are integral to Maine communities will not be approved for residency.

- The proposal could prevent Maine immigrants and family members from using the programs their tax dollars help support, preventing access to healthy food and secure housing, due to confusion and fear about the proposed rule.

ACTION STEPS:  What can we do?

  1. Submit a public comment by December 10th! Go to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCIS-2010-0012-0001 and click on “Comment Now!” Remember, your comment does not have to be long, it just has to explain why you are opposed to the proposed public charge rule. We have until December 10th to submit comments.

  2. Contact Maine’s Congressional delegation! By changing immigration policy through rule making, the administration would be going around Congress. Ask our delegation to push back!

Go to www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org for more information about this proposed rule.

This is general information and not legal advice. If you think this change may apply to you, talk with an immigration attorney.