Friday, July 12, 2024

Under the Biden Administration’s New Finalized Rule, Immigrants on Public Benefits Won’t Face Hurdles to Get Permanent Status

This week, the Biden Administration finalized a rule that will eliminate obstacles for immigrants who benefit from public benefits when applying for permanent status in the U.S. The Trump Administration had modified the “public charge,” decades-old regulation, making it harder for individuals who use public benefits to obtain permanent immigration status.

The Biden administration, however, has changed the Trump-era policy to return to the longstanding practice.

“This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members. Consistent with America’s bedrock values, we will not penalize individuals for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, in a statement.

Under these regulations, the term “public charge” describes someone who is “primarily dependent” on government assistance, meaning it makes up more than half of their income but only counts cash benefits. The Trump administration expanded the definition of who depends on the government by including more benefit programs, but that change is no longer in effect.

In its proposed new regulation issued in February, the Department of Homeland Security argued that changes made in 2019 by the Trump administration had harmed immigrant communities. That led to immigrants avoiding benefits like medical care because they were worried that using those benefits might keep them from obtaining permanent status.

The finalized rule will go into effect on December 23, 2022.