Immigration News

23September 2019


The long-awaited new rules regarding the financial condition of applicant’s for green cards, also known as the “public charge rules” came out recently. I am happy to share my opinions about whether this is a wise or fair new interpretation of the law but for now, what follows is a short summary of the law without my opinions: 

Beginning on October 15, 2019 applicant’s for benefits including family based green cards and green cards through marriage will need to complete an additional application called “I-944” Declaration of self-sufficiency”

USCIS will look at whether a person has received public benefits for a combined time of 36 months in the past and they will also look at a variety of factors to determine whether a person is likely to receive those benefits in the future.

IMPORTANT: Citizen children or spouses are a factor but it will not disqualify you if the receive the following benefits so if you need medical insurance for your children, please get it.

Benefits included:

  • Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance   
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 
  • Federal, state or local 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 (SNAP, or 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 section 9 the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq. 
  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions) which includes Med-quest in Hawaii

USCIS will not consider benefits received by children who are school age (18 or younger); emergency medical care; benefits received because you have a disability; benefits received by pregnant women throughout the pregnancy and 60 days after birth and benefits received by those in the armed services.

The factors USCIS will look at to determine whether they think you may need help in the future are:

  • Age
  • Health; 
  • Family status; 
  • Assets, resources, and financial status; 
  • Education and skills; 
  • Prospective immigration status; 
  • Expected period of admission; and  
  • Sufficient Form I-864, when required under section 212(a)(4)(C) or (D) of the INA. 

They will look at all of them together.

We will be providing free public informational meetings about this issue in the near future on Maui so stay tuned.

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