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New Immigration Plan Could Change Green Card Qualifications

August 8, 2018 3 minute Read by Laura Collins
Applicants for green cards are evaluated on a range of areas to determine eligibility. The likeliness of becoming a public charge is only one factor, but it can be enough to deny an application.

Recent reports suggest the Trump administration is drafting a proposal targeting lawfully present immigrants and temporary workers who seek to obtain legal permanent residence, more commonly known as a green card. While the new rule has not yet been published, leaks suggest it would redefine the concept of a public charge, an individual who is likely to be dependent on the government.

Applicants for green cards are evaluated on a range of areas to determine eligibility. The likeliness of becoming a public charge is only one factor, but it can be enough to deny an application. The potential new rule would merely expand the ways in which an applicant could be considered a public charge.

Currently, public charge is defined as cash benefits for income maintenance and long-term care at government expense. Other benefits, such as food stamps or Medicaid, are not considered. The new rule would expand the definition to include food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers, and possibly many more non-cash programs. It is important to note that low-income immigrants use welfare programs less than low-income natives, according to the George W. Bush Institute’s immigration handbook.

Expanding the definition of public charge is particularly stunning for mixed status families—families with some members who are non-citizens and U.S.-born children who are citizens. A mixed status family who receives food stamps or Medicaid for their U.S.-born citizen children could have a green card application denied.

In plainer terms, the federal government is proposing denying green cards to families who have citizen children who are entitled to use government benefits like any other American citizen.

This is not the administration’s first hurdle to legal immigration. Since the President took office, there have been a number of quiet administrative changes or proposed changes that undermine our legal immigration system.

  • The U.S. is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees since 1980, the year we created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Agency and modernized our refugee policies.
  • The administration is proposing stripping work authorization from spouses of highly skilled temporary workers on H-1B visas.
  • Starting September 11, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service can begin to deny visa applications without notifying the applicant that it intends to deny the application, giving the applicant a chance to correct her application, or even specifying the error to the applicant.
  • Tightened vetting for visa applicants, including social media handles and additional biographical information.
  • Increased scrutiny of H-1B applicants and renewals.
  • Proposed rescission of the international entrepreneur rule, a program designed to attract foreign entrepreneurs wishing to start and grow businesses in the U.S.

Immigration is an important part of a pro-growth economic strategy. These new rules will make an already complicated immigration process more difficult for legal immigrants and temporary workers hurting the economy’s ability to grow.


Author

Laura Collins
Laura Collins

Laura Collins is the Deputy Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. Collins previously served as the Director of Immigration Policy at the American Action Forum. She has experience in politics, working as a Senior Research Analyst at the Republican National Committee for the 2012 election cycle and in the Texas House of Representatives for the 82nd Legislature. A former practicing attorney, Collins earned a JD from The University of Texas School of Law and a BBA from the University of Oklahoma.

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