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This Monday morning the Supreme Court allowed the enforcement of the “Public Charge” rule.

According to USCIS, “public charge” means an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.


This policy prescribes how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on his or her likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future, as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Therefore, this new rule would expand the government’s ability to refuse green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be (or could be) a “public charge”; meaning those using or likely to use Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs would face greater scrutiny from immigration officials.


Several federal judges blocked the rules before they took effect last year and particularly in California, New York and Maryland they blocked the implementation. This freeze was removed by the Supreme Court this Monday morning allowing the Public Charge rule to take effect almost everywhere (the exception is Illinois).


Public charge denials for low income immigrants have spiked under the Trump administration even without this new policy. The State Department disqualified more than 12,000 visa applicants on public charge grounds last year. With the implementation of this new rule, denial rates are foreseen only to increase. An analysis from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found applications for about 42 percent of legal immigrants could see their green card applications “weighed negatively” as a result, while 94 percent could face extra scrutiny after using at least one of the public programs targeted by the Trump policy.