US immigration officials are allowed to deny visas and green cards to individuals who fail to meet certain criteria. Under the “public charge rule,” which was approved by a divided Supreme Court, these officials can now deny entry to a number of individuals. This will have a detrimental effect on legal immigration to the United States. However, the public charge rule does not apply to all categories of immigration and will not affect VAWA applicants.
The new public charge rule took effect on February 24, 2020. The new rule affects people who are applying for visas and green cards within the United States. They are seeking an Adjustment of Status. While there has always been some type of public charge rule, it has now been expanded and will affect more potential immigrants. Previous rules denied visas and green cards to individuals who were primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Now individuals who are “more likely than not” to use certain public benefits at any time in the future.
In denying green card and visa applications, immigration officials will look at whether the applicant has used public benefits in the past. They will also look at the likelihood the individual will use benefits in the future. Factors used in this determination include age, health, family size, skills, and financial status. In addition, officials will look at whether an individual has sufficient financial resources. Applicants will have to demonstrate an income that is 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
The public charge rule will not apply to visa applicants whom Congress has exempted from the public charge test. This includes victims of domestic violence who are seeking green cards under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This is good news for those who are seeking green cards without the cooperation of their abusive family member. VAWA petitioners must still meet other requirements, including that their abusive family member is a US citizen or permanent resident. They are also required to demonstrate that they are of good moral character.
If you want to explore your options under VAWA, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Serving Immigrants, Inc., we have the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the application process. Contact us online or call us at (305) 907-6151 to schedule a consultation.