The Department of Homeland Security announced recently that is proposing new rules aimed at prospective legal permanent residents – those applying for green cards – that will impose an added restriction to those seeking to live and work legally in the United States. The proposed new regulation will deem an applicant’s use of public benefits to be a “heavily weighed negative factor” in consideration of the applicant’s green card application. The administration projects that the new regulation would affect just under 400,000 green card applicants per year.
Existing law already requires that those applying for permanent legal resident status prove that they will not be a financial burden on the public, requiring applicants to submit Affidavits of Support from friends or family. These legally enforceable agreements contractually obligate individuals to provide financial support, if necessary to prevent a green card holder from eligibility for federal cash benefit assistance. The proposed new regulation would also effectively prohibit an applicant’s use of other public benefits such as food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers. The regulation is not aimed at existing legal permanent residents, but many fear that it will have a chilling effect on green card holders’ use of any public benefits such as the Medicare Part D program’s low-cost prescription drug benefit.
The new regulation does not require congressional approval but is subject to a public review and comment process. That sixty (60) day review process is underway. Department of Homeland officials expect the regulation to become final in the coming weeks. Stock and Leader continues to monitor developments in this very dynamic area of the law and is available to assist employers and families with immigration matters, generally.