By Thomas W. Roach and Eamonn P.S. Roach, Attorneys
Q#1: Has the Administration of Donald Trump enacted any new Immigration Policies recently?
A#2: Yes, there have been a lot of changes, but the most significant of them affects people trying to get a Green Card for spouses or family members through US Consulates abroad. President Trump has said that he wants to reduce legal immigration by one half and this policy change redefines the Government’s interpretation of “Public Charge,” thus helping President Trump accomplish his goal of reducing legal immigration.
Q#2: What is a “Public Charge?”
A#2: A “Public Charge” is someone that is currently using Government benefits or probably will be in the future. The Government wants to be assured that when a person gets a Green Card, they will not obtain public benefits such as Food Stamps, Welfare or tax payer funded benefits.
Q#3: What have the rules been in the past?
A#3: For the past few decades or so the rule was fairly simple: If the sponsoring US Citizen or Green Card holder made a certain amount of income then they could sponsor a person to immigrate to the US. For instance, if a US Citizen or Green Card holder was sponsoring his wife, he would have to show that he made a minimum of $20,575 on his 2017 Income Tax Return. If a US Citizen or Green Card holder was sponsoring his parents and he also has a wife and child, then he and his wife would have to show a combined income of $36,775 on their 2017 Income Tax Returns. The process and the policy, as well as the rubric, was very straightforward.
Q#4: What is the new change?
A#4: Pursuant to this new policy, the income of the US Citizen or Green Card holder is now just one factor that the Government will take into consideration when deciding whether to grant an applicant a Green Card. The new factors that also will be considered under the “totality of the circumstances” are:
Age of the intending immigrant;
Health of the intending immigrant;
Family Status (how many total people the petitioning sponsor will have to support);
Assets, Resources, and Financial Status of the intending immigrant; and
Education and Skills of the intending immigrant.
Q#5: In practical terms, how will this policy affect the immigration process for a family member?
A#5: In general terms, it means it is going to be much more difficult, especially, for example, if the intending immigrating is older, perhaps has health issues, doesn’t have any real assets, has little education, or few marketable skills.
Q#6: Are there other parts of this new policy that I should be aware of?
A#6: Yes. The Government is especially punishing sponsoring individuals whose US Citizen family members (kids or spouse) are obtaining any public state or federal benefits such as WIC, Food Stamps, Medicaid such as Apple Health and/or Free and Reduced Lunch, even though the individuals receiving these benefits are US Citizens and are 100% entitled to receive these benefits under state and federal laws.
Q#7: What is the bottom line?
A#7: The bottom line is that by this method, Donald Trump will probably be successful in reducing legal immigration for people that are making minimum income and basic wages and who otherwise would have been able to immigrate their family members without issues just a short time ago under what was the commonly accepted method.
Thomas W. Roach and Eamonn P.S. Roach are attorneys of the firm Roach & Bishop, LLP in Pasco, Washington, who practice immigration law. This information does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that this information does not apply to you. Each case depends on specific facts. If you have questions regarding the immigration laws that you would like answered in this column, please send them to: Thomas W. Roach and Eamonn P.S. Roach, 9221 Sandifur Pkwy, Suite C., Pasco, WA 99301, phone: (509) 547-7587, fax: (509) 547-7745; or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org