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Immigration Update

November 2019

Under a 2019 rule announced by the Trump Administration, an individual who is likely at any time to become a public charge cannot become a legal permanent resident of the United States. Recently, USCIS revised the definition of public charge to allow it to consider more forms of federal and state assistance when determining whether an alien is likely to become a public charge, and therefore be ineligible to become a legal permanent resident of the United States. The rule is not yet effective. However, in order to be prepared, you should be advised of what the new rule says.

Under the new rule you are likely to become a public charge if you receive one or more of the below public benefits for more than 12 months within the 36 months preceding your application.

  1. Any cash aid from a tribe, state, or federal government including, but not limited to:
    1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
    2. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
    3. Federal, state, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (states often call this “General Assistance”)
      • i. Massachusetts has two cash assistance programs: (1) Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC); and (2) Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC)
  2. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits (otherwise known as food stamps)
  3. Section 8 Housing Voucher;
  4. Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance;
  5. Any other form of federally funded rental assistance;
  6. Medicaid; and
  7. Funding for long-term institutionalization at government expense.

This new rule only applies to you if you are applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa, or seeking to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident with USCIS. It does not apply to you if you will be traveling overseas to receive your visa (i.e. consular processing).

We would appreciate an opportunity to discuss this matter with you in more detail.

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