public charge rule

Immigrants Dropping Medicaid Coverage Due to Misinformation About New Public Charge Policy

By Jeanine Stone on November 9, 2019

Misconceptions about the Trump Administration’s new public charge policy are causing many immigrants to refrain from seeking Medicaid coverage for their children out of fear of deportation. The rule is facing multiple legal challenges nationwide and although it was scheduled to go into effect on October 16, 2019, at least one federal district judge has issued a nationwide injunction preventing the rule from going into effect.

Under the new public charge rule, federal immigration officials will be able to deny visa and green card applications from immigrants whom they believe could become a public charge, or primarily dependent on government aid. Officials could determine that individuals are likely to become public charges based on their low income, or their prior use of benefits programs such as Medicaid and SNAP or food assistance.

Immigrants Dropping Medicaid Coverage
Due to Misinformation About New Public Charge Policy

The public charge rule has been in effect since 1882, but historically has been very vague. In the past, the rule has been applicable only to individuals whose entire income came from government cash benefits or who needed extensive medical care and had no insurance coverage.

However, the new rule refers to various other benefits programs, including health care, food stamps, cash assistance, and public housing programs. It also increases the income threshold for applicants to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.

In response to the public charge rule, immigrants are removing themselves and their children from healthcare and food assistance programs, even if they already have valid visas or green cards. The misinformation about the new policy circulating in immigrant communities is making all immigrants wary of using any government benefits, even if they are entitled to them or usage would not affect their legal immigration status. Immigrant parents with special needs children, for instance, may believe that they must remove their children from Medicaid, even if the public charge rule doesn’t apply to them and their situation.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals who are facing immigration problems. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

Posted in Immigration Reform

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Changes to the Public Charge Rule

By Peek & Toland on October 12, 2019

U.S. Customs and Immigrations Services (USCIS) issued its final rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds on August 14, 2019. The rule will become effective on October 15, 2019. The new rule will have no effect on applications and petitions already pending with USCIS before that date.

As expected, almost 20 states, along with immigration advocacy groups, have filed at least six separate lawsuits to try and block the new public charge rule. These states fear that the new rule will have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, resulting in billions of losses of revenue from immigrants denied citizenship. The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that the financial losses resulting from implementation of the public charge rule could cost the economy as much as $33.8 billion and 230,000 jobs. Plus, when less people sign up for non-cash public benefits, states receive less money from the federal government for those programs. Fewer benefits also translates to less spending money for individuals who are no longer receiving the benefits.

Changes to the Public Charge Rule

The major change to the public charge rule concerns legal immigrants in the U.S. who use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance for more than 12 months in any 36-month period. Immigrants who do use these benefits for the stated timeframes will jeopardize their ability to obtain green cards and become naturalized citizens. The move effectively could block citizenship for thousands of immigrants legally living in the U.S. There are some exemptions to the rule, such as for refugees and immigrants seeking asylum.

USCIS maintains that it is simply clarifying and enforcing a policy that has been on the books for years, and that its goal is to ensure that immigrants who become U.S. citizens are financially self-sufficient. The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals and businesses who are facing immigration issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

Posted in Immigration

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Changes to Public Charge Rule Drastically Increase Number of Denied U.S. Immigrant Visas

By Peek & Toland on July 17, 2019

Reuters is reporting that denials of U.S. visas have increased drastically following a change in the “public charge” rule by the Trump Administration. This rule states that if visa applicants could become a public charge, or reliant on the U.S. government for financial assistance through taxpayer support. Changes to this policy that took place in January 2018 have given State Department officials more considerable discretion to deny visas on public charge grounds.

Not so coincidentally, this policy change occurred on the heels of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposing a rule to restrict immigration because the individuals might become public charges. This controversial proposal drew hundreds of public comments during the required notice and comment period. As a result, the efforts of the DHS to enact this policy increased drastically. Some have suspected that the State Department policy change was nothing more than an attempt to avoid the high-profile rulemaking process that DHS must go through and still achieve the same result. The State Department has enacted the same proposal as DHS, thus effectively bypassing any oversight by the public.

Changes to Public Charge Rule Drastically Increase Number of Denied U.S. Immigrant Visas

The State Department policy change has resulted in litigation in a federal court in Maryland. The federal government is arguing that its policy changes are not subject to procedural rules that require public notice and comment or court review.

Furthermore, even when visa applicants are providing what previously would have been adequate proof that they will be financially independent, such as affidavits for support from family members in the U.S. and proof of employment in the U.S., however, these individuals nonetheless are receiving denials of their visa applications. Denials of visas on public charge grounds have increased significantly since January 2018 when the State Department policy went into effect. Denials based on public charge grounds rose to almost 13,500 for fiscal year 2018, which is the highest total since 2004 and quadruple the number of such rejections for fiscal year 2017. The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. We intend to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Visas

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