Last year, the government issued a new interpretation of the “public charge rule.” That rule is supposed to keep immigrants from becoming a financial burden on society. Under the government’s new interpretation, people could be denied visas or green cards if they accept public benefits for 12 months or more in any three-year period.
The new version of the rule also allowed immigration officers to consider an immigrant’s family size, credit rating and past applications for public benefits like food stamps.
Immigrant rights groups immediately sued the government to stop enforcement of the rule. A federal judge in Chicago set aside the rule in a nationwide order. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the rule could go into effect while the lawsuits were heard. That means the rule has been in effect.
That has now changed.
Now, the same federal judge has issued another nationwide order stopping the rule. For one thing, he found the rule was arbitrary. The government had not followed its own rules when revising its interpretation of the rule.
He also found that the rule is discriminatory. It causes immigrants to forgo crucial public services such as emergency medical care out of fear that they will lose their immigration status or hope for a green card. This, in turn, places a heavy burden on county services, which do not count against immigrants.
The government has conceded that it did not follow its own rules when passing the new interpretation. However, it continued to argue that the rule should be enforced.
Now, the rule can no longer be enforced. That could change if there are further appeals and the Supreme Court overturns the ban again. However, if Joe Biden is elected president, it is unlikely he will fight to resurrect the rule.
If you have used public benefits, you may now be eligible for a visa or green card
If you are an immigrant who has used public benefits, this is good news. You may have been told you might not be eligible for a visa or green card due to the “public charge” rule. This court ruling changes that.
Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for assistance. Attorney Alison Yew is a board certified specialist in immigration law. You may have options you didn’t have before.