For the last several years, the Public Charge Final Rule has impacted countless immigrants in the United States. Although the rule has existed for years, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only recently started enforcing it quite strictly.
The Public Charge Final Rule affects the immigration eligibility of those who need certain public benefits. Thankfully, the USCIS has reversed its position on this rule.
How does the public charge rule work?
Certain forms of state aid can impact someone’s right to stay in the United States if they receive those benefits for too long. The benefits impacted by this rule include:
- Cash assistance or Welfare
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Housing assistance (Section 8)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamp) benefits
- Generalized assistance at the state level
The rule specifically states that an immigrant should not receive those benefits for more than a year. Each month you receive a benefit counts against you, and each additional benefit reduces how long you can receive this support. A total of 12 benefit months between multiple programs has affected the rights of immigrants in the past.
As of March, 2021, your public benefit status is less important
Many people who were in desperate need of state assistant didn’t apply for benefits they should receive out of fear. Families may have gone without enough food or faced eviction from their homes because asking for state aid could affect their immigration status.
With all of the economic upheavals of the last two years, such policies placed an unfair burden on many immigrant families. Thankfully, as of March 9, 2021, the USCIS will no longer strictly enforce the Public Charge Final Rule. Although they may still occasionally consider those who are not able to financially support themselves, state aid will have far less of a bearing on someone’s immigration rights than it did a year ago.
Immigration policies change constantly
Everything from political discord in other countries to presidential elections influences domestic immigration policy. It can be hard to track those changes or make sense of immigration law without professional help. Familiarizing yourself with current USCIS policies can help you advocate for yourself as an immigrant concerned about deportation or removal from the United States.