Assessing Inadmissibility and Green Card Denial for Income-Based Public Charge Grounds

by ECL Writer
Assessing Inadmissibility and Green Card Denial for Income-Based Public Charge Grounds

In the realm of U.S. immigration policy, the concept of “public charge” has long been a focal point, serving as a criterion to determine an individual’s eligibility for admission or adjustment of status.

With recent changes in regulations, particularly concerning income-based criteria, the assessment of inadmissibility and potential denial of green cards has gained renewed attention. delves into the intricate landscape of immigration law, exploring the implications of income thresholds on the determination of public charge inadmissibility.

It seeks to unravel the complexities surrounding this criterion, shedding light on its impact on immigrants aspiring to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. From navigating the intricate nuances of income requirements to understanding the broader implications for applicants, this discussion aims to provide clarity on a pivotal aspect of immigration law in contemporary America.

Definition of “Public Charge” in U.S. Immigration Law

If a prospective green card applicant has a greater likelihood than not of relying on public assistance in the future to meet their fundamental needs, they may be deemed inadmissible as a likely public charge. Immigration officers are expected to consider the applicant’s entire situation and determine the applicant’s financial obligation, even though they are unable to forecast the future.

According to the federal statute in I.N.A. § 212(a)(4)(B)(i) or 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(4)(B)(i), as well as the government’s 1999 Interim Field Guidance, the following are the primary variables they take into account.

  • Age: The age of the applicant is considered, with younger individuals potentially seen as having more potential to work and support themselves financially.
  • Health: The applicant’s health status is evaluated, as poor health may impact their ability to work and support themselves financially.
  • Family Status: Immigration officials assess the applicant’s family status, including whether they have dependents or are part of a household with other individuals who may require financial support.
  • Assets: The assets owned by the applicant, such as property, savings, or investments, are taken into account as a measure of financial stability.
  • Resources and Financial Status: This includes an evaluation of the applicant’s overall financial situation, including income, debts, and expenses.
  • Education: The level of education attained by the applicant is considered, as higher education levels may correlate with better employment prospects and financial stability.
  • Skills: Immigration officials assess the applicant’s skills and qualifications, which can impact their ability to secure employment and support themselves financially.

Although a candidate’s history of receiving cash income-maintenance benefits can be considered in this future consideration, it does not automatically disqualify them as a possible public charge. One way to get past it is to demonstrate, for instance, that the applicant is employed full-time and legally.

List of Public Benefit Programs That Are Considered a Potential Bar to Immigrating

The programs that could negatively impact your application for a U.S. visa or green card are:

  1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance
  3. State and local cash assistance programs that provide benefits for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance” programs)
  4. Programs (including Medicaid) supporting aliens who are institutionalized for long-term care, such as in a nursing home or mental health institution

Federal courts in the United States stopped the Trump administration’s attempt to add additional regulations to this list.

List of Public Benefits That Do Not Preclude an Applicant from Being Admitted to the United States

The subsequent non-cash programs are not considered determinants when evaluating eligibility for U.S. immigration applications, thus they do not influence the assessment of being a public charge:

  1. Medicaid and other health insurance and health services, except for support designated for long-term institutional care.
  2. Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  3. Nutrition and supplemental or emergency food assistance programs, including school meals, Food Stamps, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
  4. Housing benefits.
  5. Child care services.
  6. Energy assistance.
  7. Emergency disaster relief.
  8. Foster care and adoption assistance.

These programs are exempted from consideration when assessing public charge status for immigration purposes.

These programs are exempted from consideration when assessing public charge status for immigration purposes.

While most immigrants are required to clear the public charge hurdle, certain categories of green card applicants are exempt from these rules. These include:

  • Asylees and refugees, including those adjusting status to permanent residence.
  • Applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
  • Trafficking victims and crime victims aiding U.S. law enforcement (with T visas or U visas), both during visa application and adjustment of status.
  • Amerasian special immigrants.
  • Applicants under specific acts such as the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 (NACARA), Cuban Adjustment Act (if paroled into the U.S. as refugees before April 1, 1980), the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), or the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (LRIF).
  • Registry applicants (based on residing in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972).
  • Afghan and Iraqi interpreters or employees of the U.S. government.
  • Parolees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
  • Surviving spouses, children, and parents of U.S. military members applying for green cards as a posthumous benefit.
  • VAWA self-petitioners or those seeking VAWA-based cancellation of removal or suspension of deportation.
  • Applicants for cancellation of removal or suspension of deportation.
  • Special immigrant juveniles, both during initial application and adjustment of status.
  • Active duty or Ready Reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces, their spouses, or children, who were receiving public benefits at the time.
  • Children of U.S. citizens (adopted or biological) who, upon receiving U.S. permanent residence and subsequently living in the legal and physical custody of their U.S. citizen parent, will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Refer to 8 C.F.R. § 212.23(a) for comprehensive government regulations on this matter.

How to Avoid a Public Charge-Based Green Card Denial

When applying for a green card based on a family relationship, the petitioner must submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to promise support at a level higher than the U.S. Poverty Guidelines. This document demonstrates financial capability and helps immigration authorities determine that the applicant won’t become a public charge.

However, it’s essential to understand that positive and negative factors are considered in the application process. Applicants can enhance their case by showcasing valuable assets, job prospects, and any additional positive factors not fully reflected in the paperwork. A letter of explanation can help address any negative aspects and emphasize positive ones.

It’s also important not to request a fee waiver when filing Form I-485 for adjusting status in the U.S. A fee waiver may imply an inability to meet income guidelines for a green card, potentially raising concerns about financial stability.

Factors That Might Lead to a Likely Public Charge Inadmissibility Finding

A green card applicant may be at risk of being labelled a likely public charge, even after submitting an approvable I-864 Affidavit of Support, if they exhibit any of the following characteristics:

  • Advanced Age: Being very elderly can raise concerns about the applicant’s ability to financially support themselves in the United States, especially if they are unlikely to work due to age-related limitations.
  • Serious Disease or Disability: If the applicant has a serious illness or disability and lacks a source of health insurance, it may be seen as a potential financial burden on the U.S. healthcare system.
  • Dependent Living Situation: If the applicant plans to live with friends or relatives who are reliant on public benefits for their support, this can suggest that the applicant may also become dependent on such benefits.
  • Limited Work History: A lack of work history may indicate a lack of ability or intention to financially support oneself in the United States.
  • History of Public Benefits: If the applicant has a long history of receiving public benefits in their home country, it may raise concerns about their ability to support themselves financially without relying on such assistance in the United States.

Green card applicants need to address these concerns and provide additional evidence of financial stability and self-sufficiency to mitigate any doubts regarding their ability to support themselves in the United States.

What are the grounds for inadmissibility for Green Card?

The grounds of inadmissibility for a Green Card, also known as lawful permanent residency, encompass various factors. These include individuals with criminal records involving certain offences or multiple convictions, those who have violated immigration laws such as overstaying visas, individuals likely to become reliant on public benefits, and those with communicable diseases or lacking required vaccinations.

Additionally, individuals who pose a threat to national security or have engaged in unlawful activity related to drugs or prostitution may also be deemed inadmissible. These criteria are intended to safeguard public safety, public health, and the integrity of the immigration system. Meeting the eligibility requirements and demonstrating admissibility is essential for obtaining lawful permanent residency in the United States.

What would cause a Green Card to be denied?

A Green Card application may be denied for various reasons, including failure to meet vaccination requirements or provide proper documentation; presence of a communicable disease; having a physical or mental illness that poses a threat to public safety; or suffering from drug addiction or abuse. In cases where an applicant lacks required vaccinations or documentation, or has a communicable disease, they may be denied entry to prevent the spread of illness.

Similarly, individuals with severe mental or physical conditions that endanger others may be deemed inadmissible. Drug addiction or abuse can also lead to denial, as it poses a risk to the individual’s well-being and potentially endangers others. Applicants must ensure they meet all requirements and provide accurate documentation to avoid denial of their Green Card application.

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