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?

Filing Taxes? Five Tips for Non-Citizen Filers

Whether you are petitioning for a family member, applying for naturalization, defending yourself against deportation, or serving as a co-sponsor for another immigrant, there are many circumstances that require the Department of Homeland Security to scrutinize your tax records.

Here at WGV, we have seen many tax documents with errors and omissions, some of which have cost our clients many thousands of dollars to rectify, plus subjected them to fines, penalties, and findings that they lack good moral character. With tax season now in full swing, here are five tips to keep in mind if you or a loved one are an immigrant tax filer in the United States.

You do not need to have a social security number to file taxes

All workers in the United States – whether authorized or not – are able to file tax documents with the IRS. If you do not have a valid social security number, you may apply for an “ITIN” or “Individual Tax-Payer Identification Number” when you file your return. The ITIN will substitute for a social security number on your taxes, though including it may render you or your spouse ineligible for certain benefits.

You should not file as “Head of Household” if you live with your spouse

Many spouses of undocumented individuals file as “Head of Household” even though they are married and living with their spouse. While there are many tax benefits granted to persons filing as “Head of Household,” this filing status is essentially a declaration that you are either single or residing separately from a spouse. If you need to convince the immigration service that you are residing with your spouse in a good faith marriage, having tax returns filed as “Head of Household” works against you and could even be considered fraudulent.

Do not declare Dependents unless you have paid at least 50% (half) of that person’s living expenses

In order to legitimately claim a dependent on your tax return, you need to be able to prove that you have provided, during the tax year, at least 50% of that person’s living expenses. Naming relatives on your tax return as dependents in order to maximize a tax refund is illegal and a bad idea for anyone trying to avoid problems with the IRS or DHS.

Do not declare children for the Child Tax Credit unless they are living with you

To properly claim a child for the Child Tax Credit, the child must physically reside with you, be younger than 17 years, unmarried, and dependent on you for care. Do not claim your children if they are living outside your home.

Beware of tax preparers who promise big refunds

At WGV, we have seen that some tax preparers routinely file returns for clients with the objective of maximizing the tax refund. In order to do so, the preparer often includes questionable dependent information, designates an improper filing status (e.g. “single,” “head of household,” etc.), or includes children that do not reside with the filer.

This approach often leaves clients vulnerable to fines, penalties, and even potential criminal charges, while the preparer him or herself faces little to no liability. Beware of tax preparers who do not conduct a complete interview each year to see how your circumstances may have changed, or who encourage you to claim dependents or children that are not legitimately yours to claim. You should NEVER sign a blank tax return – always insist on seeing the tax preparer’s work. Also be wary of tax preparers who offer to prepare and file immigration documents for clients, as doing this is a crime unless the person is an attorney or accredited by the government for non-profit work.

WGV encourages clients to work with well-established, accredited, and reputable tax preparers. For a listing of tax preparers and their credentials in your area, visit https://irs.treasury.gov/rpo/rpo.jsf.


 

WGVs Best Advice for Immigrants in 2018: Leave your foreign ID at home!

As the Trump Administration has made good during the past year on its promise to pursue mass deportations of immigrants – both documented and undocumented, we have been forced to become more creative in our strategies for protecting our clients.

Consequently, as strange as it may sound, WGV is now advising all clients NOT to carry ANY form of foreign identification which may identify you as the citizen of any country besides the USA. This includes passports, consular IDs, voter registration cards, driver’s licenses, or any other document issued by a foreign, non-USA government or agency.

The reasoning for this advice is as follows:

  1. A foreign identification does not provide you any legal benefit or protection – it does not authorize you to live, work, or drive in the United States;
  2. If you are detained by police or immigration, you must state your name, your date of birth, and your address. If you are in possession of an identification document of any sort, you will be asked to show it and it may be confiscated from you;
  3. If you give the police or DHS agents a foreign identification document, you are admitting that you are a citizen of a foreign country;
  4. If you do NOT give the police or DHS any identification, and you do not say that you are from a foreign country, then DHS cannot prove you are from a foreign country;
  5. If DHS cannot prove that you are not a citizen of the United States, then they cannot deport you.

Therefore: If you are detained by police or immigration agents, state your name, age, and address, and in response to any further questions, simply state, “I would like to speak to my attorney.” The only way to avoid showing a foreign ID in this circumstance is to not have it on your person or in your car.

Even without a foreign ID document, you may still be detained by DHS.

Leaving your foreign identification at home does not guarantee that you will not be arrested, detained or even deported. Especially if you are arrested for a criminal offense, the likelihood that you will be detained by immigration is very high. However, if you do not give a foreign ID to police when you are arrested, then they cannot pass it to DHS. This will put you in the best possible position to be successfully defended by your immigration attorney when the time comes.

Conclusion: LEAVE YOUR FOREIGN ID AT HOME!

If you have questions or would like additional information, call us at 512-633-1785 and schedule a consultation.


 

Hello! Message Us Below For Assistance
¡Hola! Mensaje para asistencia
For Arrests or Deportation Emergency:
Para detenciones o emergencia por deportación:
📞 1-877-339-1422 | 📲 text: 512-213-0005