Public Charge

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Public charge, in immigration terms means a foreign national who has become or is likely to become “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 the expense of the government.”

If you will become a public charge, you are inadmissible and you will not qualify to become a legal permanent resident in the US. You will risk facing deportation if you have become a public charge within five years after your date of entry in to the US. However your deportation will be decided by an immigration judge and he/she will have the final say.

If you are found to be a public charge, it will lead to straight rejection of an application to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident status by the USCIS, denial of an immigrant visa to enter the US by the US Consulates, or you might also face deportation in certain circumstances. Only receiving any publicly funded services will not make you a public charge, or indicate that you are most likely to become a public charge. There are many benefits that you can receive that will not make you a public charge. The nature of the public program has the final say when deciding if you will become a public charge or not. Attending public schools, school lunch or other supplemental nutrition programs, or getting emergency medical care would not make you a public charge, though they use public funds.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Cash assistance from the TANF program may make you a public charge In addition, state or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance (General Assistance) programs and Public assistance, including Medicaid for foreign nationals who reside in an institution for long-term care, such as a nursing home or mental health institution also will make you a public charge.

Getting such public cash assistance could make you a public charge. It is also important to note that short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation is not subject to public charge. It is important to know that not all cash assistance is provided for purposes of income maintenance. So it is evident that not all forms of cash assistance is relevant for public charge purposes. Some energy assistance programs provide supplemental benefits through cash payments depending on the locality and the type of fuel needed. Similarly, cash payments can also be provided for childcare assistance. Such supplemental cash benefits are not considered as public charge because they are not evidence of main dependence on the government for subsistence.


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