COVID-19 Pandemic and the Public Charge Rule for Intending Immigrants
The public charge rule is in place so that “an alien who is likely at any time to become a public charge” will be “generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident.” There are certain public benefits such as public housing or federally funded Medicaid that if received by an immigrant, would serve as a reason to deny a green card application. Due to the Public Charge Rule, questions have arisen on whether accepting some forms of COVID-19 relief would constitute as a public-charge determination.
First, USCIS has clarified that testing, treatment, and preventative care pertaining to COVID-19 will not count as a public-charge determination, even if the treatment is paid for by a public benefit such as Medicaid. There are also some concerns that obtaining unemployment insurance could constitute as a public-charge determination; however, in general, unemployment benefits are not seen as a public charge inadmissibility determination. Also, the recovery rebates available under the recently passed CARES Act are structured as “automatically advanced tax credits,” so receiving the recovery rebate will also not be seen as a public charge inadmissibility determination as well. Finally, taking advantage of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) will not constitute as a public benefit under the public charge inadmissibility determination and will not impact an alien’s immigration status.
Getting testing and preventative care related to COVID-19, obtaining unemployment insurance, receiving recovery rebates, and receiving P-EBT are not public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination. Immigrants can take advantage of these benefits and remain eligible for permanent residence.
This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances. For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call me at 214-494-8033, complete my contact form