The 'Public Burden' rule has come into force: the main thing an immigrant needs to know
Starting February 24, 2020, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service will apply the Final Rule on the inadmissibility of “public burden” throughout the country, including the state of Illinois, after a “judicial victory” that repeals the ban in that state, the official website says USCIS.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision of February 21, 2020 to suspend the ban in Illinois, USCIS will now apply the Final Rule to all petitions and petitions sent by mail or electronically no later than February 24, 2020. For applications and petitions sent by a commercial courier (e.g. UPS / FedEx / DHL), the date of the postmark is the date indicated on the courier's receipt.
The final rule, published on August 14, 2019 and originally scheduled to enter into force on October 15, 2019, prescribes how the Department of Homeland Security will determine the grounds under which a foreigner is an unacceptable person and does not have the right to change his status to the status of legal permanent resident, since it can become a “public burden" at any time, in accordance with section 212 (a) (4) of the Immigration and Citizenship Law.
The Final Rule also refers to the authority of USCIS to issue collateral bonds for status change applicants. Finally, the rule includes a requirement that foreigners who wish to extend their non-immigrant stay or change their status demonstrate that they have not received public goods beyond the established threshold from the moment they receive non-immigrant status, which they seek to extend or change.
Trump will usually affect immigrants
Starting February 24, the United States will begin to block the path to green cards and some visas to more foreigners based on the assumptions of the US presidential administration about whether these people will ever be able to burden taxpayers, writes Axios.
Why is this important? First of all, the long-awaited rule of "Social burden" will actually become a test for wealth and health, which can prevent hundreds of thousands of people from making the United States their rightful home.
- Technically, the “Public Burden” rule is for immigrants who, according to forecasts by US officials, can apply for certain government benefits at any time in the future.
- In fact, the new rule could make it difficult for the middle-income people in the United States to travel lawfully, as well as those who suffer from illnesses or experience poverty.
- The fact of applying for a green card will be counted against such an applicant by the Department of Homeland Security.
“The administration seems to be saying: let's get as close as possible to the 1924 law, which restricted immigration from anywhere in the world except Northern Europe,” said Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless Immigration, who previously dealt with immigration policies at Obama's White House.
Factors that may reduce an immigrant’s chances of receiving a green card:
- Income is below the 250% poverty line, or $ 76 for a family of 700 people. This means that some middle-income families will be affected, as income of $ 5 for a family of 58 is considered middle-income, according to the Pew Research Center.
- Age over 61 years or under 18 years.
- Health problems, especially in the absence of insurance.
- Lack of private health insurance.
- The applicant is not a full-time student or does not work.
- The applicant does not speak fluent English.
- Mortgage, car loan or credit card debt.
Immigrants who have used the specified benefits for a certain amount for 3 years starting February 24, 2020 will almost certainly be denied a green card or entry to the United States.
The big picture: the administration will begin to restrict all green card applicants and some visa applicants who are deemed likely to be eligible for benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), housing vouchers or Medicaid at any time in the future.
- Experts believe that the rule of DHS and the Department of State is radically redefining what it means to be a "social burden."
- Immigration officials will now consider a set of positive and negative factors that, according to the government, can determine whether immigrants will ever rely on certain public goods.
- According to experts, the decisions will mainly be left to the discretion of individual officers. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said they "disagree with the statement that the rule provides too much freedom of action for judges."
Between the lines: almost none of those who arrived in the United States on a short-term visa has the right to receive public goods, so the vast majority of these people will not be affected by the new rule.
The new rule does not apply to humanitarian immigrants such as refugees, asylum seekers and victims of trafficking.
But anyone who applies for a green card — plus an unpredictable number of more than 12 million tourists a year, business travelers, international students and temporary workers coming from abroad — will now have to fill out additional documents with personal data that can determine whether their candidatures will be approved.
“Health care, education, family size, income, resources and public goods will be taken into account,” the Institute for Migration Policy (MPI) warned on the website. It also says that “certain factors will be heavily weighted, for example, if income or resources of at least 250 percent of the poverty line are evaluated positively, then the current or recent use of these public goods will be weighed as a very negative factor,” adds Newsweek.
In numbers: up to 400 people may lose their green cards or visas each year due to new rules, according to Rand.
In 2018, the Department of State introduced a limited version of this guide for consular staff. In the same fiscal year, four times more refusals were recorded for potential applicants for the role of “public burden” than in 2017.
What the authorities say: Now the new information needed to apply for a green card and some visas is extensive, detailed and personal.
Many law firms and lawyers representing businesses and employees are concerned that this could violate state or local privacy laws, said Axios Jesse Bless, Federal Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“This is all part of the invisible wall that the administration is building,” said Bless. “They make everything so burdensome that employers or individuals who can sponsor family members do not.”
What to look for: the court will have more legal problems that may violate the implementation of the new rules.
Although the Institute for Migration Policy notes that it’s “impossible to know exactly” who will be denied admission to the US or a change in status according to the criteria of the US government, the MPI analysis paints a picture of who may be threatened with denial.
“Using census data to review the characteristics of current green card holders, MPI found that 43% were not working or attending school; 39% do not speak English well or poorly; 33% have incomes below 125 percent of the poverty line; 25% do not have a high school diploma, and 12% have an income below 125% of the poverty level and are under the age of 18 or older than 61 years, ”MPI said.
“Among current green card holders, 69% have at least one of these negative factors; 43% have at least two; and 17% have at least three, according to the Institute. “Therefore, most applicants will fall into the gray zone with some positive and some negative factors, which emphasizes how unpredictable and individual the process can be.”
Already, immigrant protection groups have warned that a few months before the entry into force of the “Public Charge” rule was envisaged, it had already affected immigrants.
The Institute’s report published last year found that even in 2018, one in seven adults (13,7%) in immigrant families stated that he or at least one of his family members decided not to participate in the benefits program “because fear of risking future legal status. ”
Among adults in low-income families, this figure was even higher: one in five (20,7%) adults said they were too afraid to claim benefits, fearing a negative impact on getting a green card or visa.
Even among non-US citizens who are already permanent residents and will not be affected by this rule, polls showed signs of a “fright effect”. Researchers argue that "although the proposed rule does not affect these groups of people, we still find that 14,7% of adults in families in which all non-citizens are permanent residents do not participate in the benefits program."
Despite the widespread backlash against the rule, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service seemed to celebrate the “judicial victory” of the Trump administration after it received approval from the Supreme Court to extend the policy to Illinois, as stated on the agency’s official website.
Illinois was not the only state in which they tried to prevent the rule from taking effect. After his attempt to sue the Trump administration failed in the Supreme Court, California Governor Gavin Newsome said the consequences of this rule would be “devastating” for residents of his state.
“Because of the rules of the Public Charge, families are already starving, and people are shunding the necessary medical care,” Newsom said in a January statement. “California will continue to fight these efforts terrorizing immigrant families.”
Earlier, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services published revised and updated forms that comply with the final rule on the inadmissibility of a “social burden,” which will be implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security and USCIS on February 24, 2020. Starting from the indicated date, applicants and petitioners will have to use new edition forms.
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