Green Card and Public Charge: How Instructions from USCIS Confuse Applicants Instead of Helping Them - ForumDaily
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Green Card and Public Charge: How Instruction from USCIS Confuses Applicants Instead of Helping Them

To apply for a US Green Card, you must complete I-485 form. It consists of 20 pages, not including 44 pages of instructions for completing it. This case has its pitfalls. Axios.

Photo: IStock

Very important: part of the form (and instructions for it) look like they are specifically designed to confuse people and make them lie in their application. Finding a lie on an immigration form can lead to prosecution and possible deportation long after they receive a green card.

How it works

Question 61 on page 13 of Form I-485 reads, “Are you subject to the Public Charge rule under INA § 212(a)(4)??”

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The official instructions for answering this question say, "To find out if you are subject to Public Charge under INA § 212(a)(4), see the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 8, Part G, Chapter 3." Here is the guide, but understanding it is an impossible mission.

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The essence of the problem

The question looks like you are being asked if you allow yourself to become dependent on public assistance at some point - Public Charge.

As a result, anyone who believes they are unlikely to become dependent on government assistance (and can attach written evidence of this) is more likely to answer “no” to question 61.

But it's not right.


Look carefully. As a USCIS spokesman explained, “This question is about whether the Public Charge rule applies to the applicant, not whether the applicant can become Public Charge (that is, live on benefits in the United States) at any time in the future.”

In other words: the right answer for the vast majority of job seekers is not “no,” but “yes.” And the answer “no” can be regarded as a lie.


The USCIS promises that it "will not seek punitive action against applicants who complete and file the I-485 in good faith," even if they misunderstood this particular issue. In addition, the agency has commitment “simplify” the form and instructions for it by the end of this financial year, that is, until September 30th.

Each applicant certifies "under penalty of perjury" that the answers on the form are true and correct. The vast majority of applicants who do not use a lawyer to complete the form must have answered this horribly worded question incorrectly.

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As long as he stays in shape, new applicants continue to expose themselves to potential harsh penalties from US immigration authorities, if not now then perhaps in the future.

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Miscellanea green card Educational program filing Form I-485
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