U.S. May Deny Green Card to Immigrants Who Use Govt Benefits

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a new immigration rule to enforce a long-standing law that "promotes self-sufficiency among immigrants and protects American tax payers."


In a move that is likely to affect thousands of Indian and other immigrants, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a new proposed rule to deny green cards to immigrants who have availed or avail in government benefits like food assistance and financial aid.

According to the proposed rule, which was signed and published on the DHS website on Sept. 21, foreign immigrants who enter and remain in the United States should either temporarily or permanently support themselves financially and should not be reliant on public benefits.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” said Secretary Kristjen Nielsen. “This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Putting the responsibility of earning livelihood on the immigrants, the DHS said immigrants who seek adjustment of status or a visa, or who are applicants for admission, must establish that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge (receiving government benefits), unless the Congress has expressly exempted them from this ground of inadmissibility or has otherwise permitted them to seek a waiver of inadmissibility. The DHS said in making this determination, it’s proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor. The rule would also make non-immigrants who receive or are likely to receive designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.

Asylees, refugees, and other categories of vulnerable individuals will not be impacted by this rule.

The DHS said that in 2017, the United States granted asylum and refugee status to more individuals than Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom put together.

This is the latest move by the Trump administration to crack down on immigration. Last week, the government told a federal court that over the next three months, it will bar H-4 visa holders from working in the country. A significant number of H-4 visa holders, who are spouses of H-1B visa holders, are Indian American women.

As of April 2018, there were 632,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses and minor children waiting for green cards, news agency PTI reported. This includes 306,400 primary Indian applicants, while their spouses and children number 325,819.

The proposed rule will affect legal migrants and not illegal ones as they are not eligible for any government benefits. The proposal will be officially published in the Federal Register in a few weeks from now and people will have 60 days to make comments.

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