Applying for a Green Card? Read this First

The effect of the new Public Charge Rule is to deny the green card and visa applications of those immigrants who the government believes won’t be able to support themselves and their families. The new rule implements several changes to applications for green cards and visas, whether individuals are applying from within or outside of the U.S.

What the New Public Charge Rule Means for Green Card Applicants

The public charge rule enables the U.S. government to reject green cards and other types of immigrant applications to individuals who the government suspects will be unable to financially support themselves.

The new rule took effect on February 24, which means that immigrants now need to meet a more strict set of criteria that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will review. Specifically, immigration officers will determine if green card applicants are capable of supporting themselves and their families based on the results of a 20-factor test.

The government initially announced the new rule in August. Despite the fact that courts all over the country contested the rule, with five federal judges doing what they could to block the rule’s implementation, the rule has since come into effect. Subsequently, it’s important for green card applicants to understand what immigration officers will look for when submitting their applications.

Factors Included in the New 20-Factor Test

The 20 factors that the DHS will take into account when reviewing green card and visa applications will assess the applicant’s health condition, employment status, education, job skills, insurance, credit, age, and family size, among several other factors that immigration officers will consider when approving or denying applications.

Certain “negative factors” could lead immigration officers to deny green card applications. Some of these negative factors may include being either too young or too old, having certain medical conditions, having a large family, income levels below 1.25 times the poverty line, financial liabilities such as car loans and mortgages, being unemployed, and having a poor educational background, among others.

Meanwhile, there are other “positive factors” that could also influence immigration officers’ decision to approve or deny applications. These factors can include being insured, earning income above 2.5 times the poverty line, having a good credit history, having a good employment history and an existing job, and being highly educated.

Applicants waiting to hear back regarding approval status can check USCIS processing times online. Applicants facing denial or deportation can work with an immigration lawyer to stop removal proceedings. In special cases, immigrants can speed up the application process by qualifying for an expedited visa appointment.