Effective April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT, President Trump’s proclamation went into effect suspending the entry into the United States of immigrant individuals for at least 60 days who are:
The proclamation may be extended or altered. As of this time, the following individuals are exempt from the proclamation:
Non-immigrant visa holders and asylum seekers are NOT prohibited from coming to the United States by the proclamation.
There are multiple resources available throughout the community related to finances, mental and physical health, and scholarships for displaced students. Some of these resources include the F.U.E.L Program as part of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, World Relief, California College Student Emergency Relief Fund, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and the state of California.
What is Public Charge?
Immigration in the United States has long relied on individuals who were joining the country to build businesses and perform specialty crafts, from agriculture to medicine. As many immigrants have proven this out with new immigrants starting businesses, and now fighting against COVID-19 as doctors and nurses. USCIS has recently adjusted their perimeters around the requirements to potentially exclude those who have relied on public benefits for more than 12 months within the last 36 months, with each benefit counting separately if more than one benefit is taken in a particular month.
USCIS defines the groups included in the rule as:
· “Applicants for admission or adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (such applicants are subject to the rule’s public charge ground of inadmissibility unless Congress has exempted them from this ground)”
· “Applicants for extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status (such applicants are subject to the rule’s public benefit condition unless the nonimmigrant classification is exempted by law or regulation from the public charge ground of inadmissibility)”
USCIS states those who are excluded from the rule are:
· Certain T and U nonimmigrant visa applicants (human trafficking and certain crime victims, respectively); and
· Certain self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act.
These benefits are considered under the Public Charge rule, including:
· Supplemental Security Income;
· Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;
· Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called general assistance in the state context, but which may exist under other names);
· Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps);
· Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program;
· Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation);
· Public Housing (under the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq.); and
· Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions).
USCIS includes benefits that are not considered as the following:
· Emergency medical assistance;
· Disaster relief;
· National school lunch programs;
· The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children ;
· The Children’s Health Insurance Program;
· Subsidies for foster care and adoption;
· Government-subsidized student and mortgage loans;
· Energy assistance;
· Food pantries and homeless shelters; and
· Head Start.
Will COVID-19 Harm Our Application Because of the Public Charge Rule?
COVID-19 Testing, Treatment and Preventative Care
USCIS came out on March 13, 2020, to state that it will not take into account "testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19" in the Public Charge decision, even if the benefit is from one or more public benefits, such as federally funded Medicaid.
As of now, USCIS suggests anyone with COVID-19 related symptoms, such as chills, a fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste to seek medical treatment. USCIS has stated that seeking medical treatment "will not negatively affect any [foreign national] as part of a future public charge analysis."
May I Get Unemployment Insurance Without Harming My Immigration Case?
USCIS has stated that unemployment insurance is typically not considered when making a Public Charge decision. DHS has stated that it "would not consider federal and state retirement, Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability, post-secondary education, and unemployment benefits as public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination as these are considered to be earned benefits through the person's employment and specific tax deductions." USCIS has also included in its Policy Manual that unemployment benefits are not considered by USCIS in a Public Charge decision because USCIS considers unemployment insurance to be an "earned" benefit.
May I Get Unemployment Insurance Without Harming My Consular Processing Case?
U.S. Department of State (DOS) has not given a finite answer on whether or not COVID-19 medical treatment, or financial assistance will be a part of the Public Charge decision for applications being processed at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
During this time of uncertainty, the most important thing is to remain safe and healthy. Staying indoors can save the life of a family member, a neighbor or someone you have never met.
However, that does not mean you can not use this time to be productive. Now is the time you can search for your missing birth certificate, your passport, your marriage or divorce certificate. Some may need to collect information such as statements from family members or old neighbors. You can be using this time to gather information necessary to speak with an attorney about your immigration options.
There is little to no cost to locate and gather this information. There is also no cost for a consultation with many immigration law firms, including the Schach Law Group.
Use this time to get your immigration application in the mail so that when the world starts back up, your green card (I-485/DS-260), work permit (I-765) or citizenship/naturalization (N-400) will be waiting for approval.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
Welcome to 2020! There are new laws that have gone into effect on and around January 1, 2020 on a local, state and national level. Here are a couple of the changes in 2020 and how they may impact your immigration application.
Purchasing, possession and use of marijuana, in the legally mandated quantities is now legal in the state of Illinois. However, purchasing, possession and use of marijuana is still illegal at the federal level across the United States.
If you go to an interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and you are asked if you have used marijuana your answer should be 1) honest, and 2) no. Any use, even in California, Colorado, Illinois or any other state where it is legal to use marijuana is still illegal on the federal level and you should not be using any drugs that are prohibited by the federal government.
USCIS Fee Schedule
A proposal to increase rates on many USCIS applications including the Petition for Alien Relative and Application for Naturalization, among others. The comment period on this proposal ended on December 30, 2019. As of now, with the comment period completed, USCIS may look to implement these changes sooner than later.
If you are a green card holder that has been holding of on applying for citizenship, the application cost will potentially be going up from $640 to a proposed $1,170. If you have an application that you have delayed on filing, filing now will potentially save you hundreds in application fees.
On December 20, 2019 a new law went into effect, Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF). If you are a Liberian refugee who has been in the United States continuously since November 20, 2014 you may be eligible to receive a green card. This may also extend to your spouse, children under 21 and unmarried sons or daughters over 21.
These applications are only being accepted for one year, until December 20, 2020, so act fast. If you know Liberian family or friends that could benefit, let them know about the program so that they can act before it ends.
Around the holidays it is easy to get wrapped up in the season. Festivities, family, parties, showing appreciation for the year. It is important to remember that being around family is a privilege for some that is taken away in an instant.
Extra activity by the government to increase deportations does not mean you will be an exception. A recent news article highlights that many deportation proceedings that were administratively closed are now being reopened. For those with an ability to be documented, now is the time to act. There are individuals who are having their closed deportation proceedings reopened, or those who will encounter police checkpoints, or those who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is to all of the individuals with options that I send the message - act now.
If you are married to a United States citizen and you are undocumented, it is time to speak with an immigration attorney. If you have a mother, father or child over 21 who is a United States citizen or green card holder, it is time to speak with an immigration attorney. If you have been the victim of a crime or have helped the police in their investigation of a criminal, it is time to speak with an immigration attorney. If you have been living with your United States citizen significant other, you have a child together, but you have are holding off to get married, now is the time to start the conversation. If you are undocumented and you do not understand your options, it is time to act now.
There are many reasons not to act on your status. You may be concerned about your family, or what could happen if you start proceedings, everything has been working until now, or even concern over money. However, you do not want to be making your immigration choices when you do not have the options to set your own schedule. Now is the time to take control of your future and the future of your family - act now.
Andrew Schach is the Managing Attorney at Schach Law Group. These blog topics are not intended as legal advice as each individual's case and history are different. Call for free consultation to review your options at (916)917-5217.