What is public charge and how will the new rule affect me?

Are you applying for a US visa, an extension to a visa, a green card, or change of status? This page will help you understand the new public charge rule. It will tell you what has changed and how that change may affect you.

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Public charge update January 27, 2020: The Supreme Court says the public charge rule is allowed.

The United States Supreme Court lifted an injunction (a judge’s order) that stopped the government from applying the public charge rule to immigration applications. The rule is still blocked in Illinois, and it is being challenged in other courts.

What does this mean for immigrants and visa applicants?

hoki inaianei, the public charge rule can be used in every state except Illinois. The public charge rule says that you may be denied a change of status, a green card, or an extension to your visa if you receive or have received public benefits or if officials think you will receive them in the future. For people overseas, the rule means you may not be allowed to come to the USA if officials believe you will rely on public benefits.

What important facts I should know about the public charge rule?

Here are some important things you should know:

• The public charge rule does not apply to refugees, asylees, or victims of trafficking, domestic violence and other serious crimes.

• The public charge rule does not apply to green card holders (unless they leave the USA for over 180 days and then try to come back into the country).

• Most people applying for a visa, change of status, or green card do not qualify for the public benefits listed in the rule anyway.

• Immigration officials must look at all your circumstances when they decide if you are likely to become a public charge in the future. You have a right to show why you are unlikely to become a public charge. hei tauira, you can show your assets, your skills, your good health, and your employment record.

• Many benefits cannot be considered in the decision. WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, and child care assistance are not included. Health care programs used by children and pregnant women are not included. hauora, whare, nutrition and other non-cash benefits provided by state and local governments are not included.

Read more details about your rights and the public charge rule from the Protecting Immigrant Families.

This information was prepared with thanks to Protecting Immigrant Families a whare hauora.

Public charge update December 12, 2019: Two federal appeals courts have lifted the ban on the public charge rule, but the nationwide ban is still in place.

The courts in California and Virginia said the rule should be allowed, but the government cannot apply the rule while the October ruling is still in place. So there is no change at the moment.

Public charge update October 11, 2019: On October 11, a US federal judge decided to stop the new “public charge” rule.

Judge George Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said the administration probably did not have the authority to make this new rule. The judge wrote that the administration did not explainwhy they are changing the public charge definition, why this new definition is needed now, or why the definition set forth in the rule — which has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law — is reasonable.”

The new rule was also stopped by federal judges in California and Washington.

What does this mean for immigrants applying for green cards or immigration visas?

This means the public charge rule will not go into effect on October 15. We will update this page when there is more information or news.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even though the public charge rule has been stopped, you will still need to meet some requirements to come to the USA or to change your status in the USA. You may need to show you can cover your health expenses and other expenses. Ka taea e koe te pānui i advice from CLINIC about how these requirements affect your application.

What happened before?

I August 12, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it is making a new rule. The rule was published on August 14 and was due to become law on October 15th.

Who or what is a public charge?

Many people in the USA get help from the government for basic needs. Public charge is the term used for a person who is receiving government help, which is sometimes calledpublic benefits.

What are public benefits?

Public benefits are money and other help that is paid for using US taxes, or public money. These benefits can take many different forms. A public benefit can mean cash for low-income families. But it can also mean benefits that are not cash. Public benefits include SNAP (pane kai), housing vouchers or other housing assistance, and healthcare paid for by the government, such as Medicaid. They may cover long-term care, for example in a home for disabled or elderly people.

He aha e “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” tikanga?

Inadmissibility means not allowed. Grounds are reasons for something. So “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” means a person may not be allowed to come to the USA if there is reason to believe he or she will rely on public benefits. It also means people already in the USA may be denied a change of status, a green card, or an extension to their visa if they receive or have received public benefits or if officials think they will receive them in the future.

How has this changed with the new rule?

I roto i te mua, “public charge inadmissibility” was based on cash benefits. Na, inadmissibility will be based on non-cash public benefits, rawa, such as food stamps and other benefits listed above.

Some public benefits will e kore be included in the new rule: hei tauira, school lunches, children’s health insurance, Headstart, emergency medical care and disaster relief will e kore be included. You can also read information from USCIS about the new changes.

Are any benefits allowed before a person is considered a public charge?

Some amount of public benefits are allowed. But you cannot receive more than 12 months total benefits in a 36-month period. Each benefit counts separately. So if you receive rental assistance as well as food stamps in the same month, that counts as two months of benefits.

What else affects the decision about whether someone is or will be a public charge?

DHS officers can look at other facts to decide (make a determination) about your case. Officers will consider your health and age. They also look at your education and income. If you have private health insurance, that will count in your favor. If you are unemployed, that will count against you.

Applicants filing for a change of status will be asked to make a declaration of self-sufficiency (Form I-944). This form says the applicant can support himself or herself without public benefits.

Who does the new rule apply to?

The new rule applies to non-US citizens who are applying to come to the USA. It also includes people already in the United States who apply to change their status or extend their stay. It may apply to you if you are listed on someone’s else benefits, even you are not getting benefits directly yourself.

Who does the rule e kore apply to?

The rule does not apply to US citizens or legal permanent residents (mau taea'eo te kāri matomato). It does not apply to refugees, to asylees, and Afghanis and Iraqis with special immigrant visas.

The rule does not apply if your application is received by USCIS before October 15, 2019.

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