Questions and Answers on the New DHS Public Charge Rules

  1. What does “Public Charge” mean? The term “public charge” is not specifically defined in the law, but it has been interpreted to mean someone who relies mostly on government assistance for their basic needs. Since 1996, the immigration laws have restricted eligibility for people who were found “likely to become a public charge.”
  2. What is the new “Public Charge” rule? The Trump administration has published a new version of this rule which, if it takes effect, will make the term “public charge” applicable to many more people. The new rule will include any prospective immigrant who has used public benefits for any period longer than 12 months in any 36-month period. The new rule also greatly expands the list of benefits which will trigger a “public charge” finding, and makes it harder for some immigrants to overcome a finding of “public charge.”
  3. When does the new rule take effect? Officially, the new rule will apply only to applications filed on or after October 15, 2019. Several lawsuits have already been filed seeking to stop the new rule from taking effect, so it remains to be seen whether the rule will be fully implemented or not.In practice, many immigration officers and consular officers are already restricting admissions of immigrants for being a “public charge.” WGV is working with clients affected by these changes to find creative ways to overcome “public charge” determinations on an individualized basis.
  4. Who does the new rule effect? The new rule will affect immigrants seeking to gain temporary employment or visitors visas, as well as persons who seek to become residents through family members such as U.S. citizen spouses, adult children, and siblings.The new rule does not affect people applying for residency under the Violence Against Women Act, U visa recipients, or asylum seekers.The rule does not apply to people who are already lawful permanent residents, and will NOT be a factor for applicants for naturalization to U.S. citizenship.
  5. What benefits are included in the new rule, and which are not included? Any use of public benefits by an applicant for lawful immigration status may be problematic under the new rules, though some are clearly more problematic than others. The benefits specifically named on the list in the new rules will be considered a “heavily weighted negative factor,” meaning their use will be hard to overcome for purposes of a public charge determination.

 

  Negative Factor for “Public Charge” Determinations:   Not considered  for “Public Charge” Determinations:
Social Security Income x  
Temporary Aid for Needy Families x  
Medicaid for adults x  
SNAP (Food stamps) x  
Section 8 Housing Vouchers x  
Section 8 Rental Assistance x  
Public Housing x  
Emergency Medicaid    
Special education services & Head Start    
Medicaid for children    
Medicaid for pregnant women until 60 days post-partum    
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)    
Disaster Relief    

 

  1. What should I do if my family is using public benefits? Whether or not to access public benefits for your family may now be a more complicated decision than it was in the past. The new “public charge” rules claim to not penalize immigrants whose children use public benefits. However, in reality, the spirit of the new rules includes the intent to force immigrants to choose between
  2. What other factors are important for the “Public Charge” determination?

DACA: Your Questions Answered

On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration ended the Obama-era program known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA.” Many of our clients have been asking the following questions:

Q: If I have DACA, will I be able to keep working?

A: Yes. You will be eligible to continue working lawfully until the expiration of your work permit.

Q: If I have DACA, will ICE use the information on my applications to find me and deport me?

A: Probably not. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that information provided by DACA applicants will not be furnished to ICE for deportation purposes unless an individual is a criminal or security threat.

Q: If I have DACA and it expires on or before March 5, 2018, will I be able to renew it?

A: Yes. You must submit your application to renew your DACA before October 5, 2017.

Q: If I have DACA and it expires after March 5, 2018, will I be able to renew it?

A: No. If you submit a renewal application, it will be rejected.

Q: If I have a DACA application pending, may it still be approved?

 R: Applications that were submitted before September 5, 2017 will be adjudicated.

 Q: If I have DACA Advance Parole, may I still travel?

R: Yes. However, it is advisable to consult with your attorney regarding your planned travel before departing the USA.

Q: I have an application for DACA Advance Parole pending with USCIS. What is going to happen?

A: USCIS has announced that pending applications for DACA Advance Parole will be returned along with the filing fees to the applicants.

We at WGV will continue to fight for our many beloved immigrant youth – those who benefitted from DACA and those who did not – as well as for our many undocumented family and friends.

If you need assistance renewing DACA, please contact us immediately at (512) 633 – 1785.

Expanded DACA Begins February 18th

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that on February 18, 2015, eligible persons may begin submitting applications for the expanded version of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014. The new program is frequently referred to as “expanded DACA.” At Walker Gates Vela, we refer to it affectionately as “DACA 2.0.”

DACA 2.0 Changes Some of the Original Eligibility Requirements

 In order to be eligible for “DACA 2.0,” an applicant need not show that he or she is under any particular age. Even elderly persons can apply, so long as he or she entered and began residing in the USA prior to the age of 16 years. In addition, the date of initial entry was advanced from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010, thereby expanding eligibility to individuals who arrived more recently.

Other than those changes, the guidance published by U.S. CIS indicates that the applicant must “meet all other DACA guidelines.” Presumably, then, applicants for DACA 2.0 must continue to demonstrate that they were physically present in the United States and without lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, as well as on the date of submitting the application. Applicants for DACA 2.0 will be required to demonstrate that departures outside the United States after January 1, 2010 were “brief, casual, and innocent,” or in other words, were not related to a deportation, were not made for any illegal purpose, and were not prolonged beyond what U.S. CIS considers to be a reasonable period. Finally, DACA applicants must still have no disqualifying criminal convictions (e.g. any felony, three or more misdemeanors, or any significant misdemeanor), and must demonstrate the requisite educational requirements.

To qualify for DACA on or after February 18, 2015, an applicant will be required to show that he or she:

1. Entered the United States prior to his or her 16th birthday;

2. Has continuously resided in the United States since on or before January 1, 2010;

3. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of submitting the application;

4. Had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012;

5. Are currently in school, have received a diploma or GED from an accredited educational institution, or are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard; and

6. Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or any three misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a risk to national security or public safety.

For more information about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and other benefits available to immigrant youth, visit our website or call us to make an appointment today.

 

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