- Income could be a deciding factor when it comes to US Green card
- The policy is based on the Law of Public Charge
- Up to a million people could be affected by this change
The US government is set to introduce more changes to their immigration policy. While it hadn’t been confirmed as yet, immigrants who have received any form of public aid for the past 36 months may be ineligible for a Green Card.
According to a leaked draft of an executive order, such immigrants may be restricted from being granted Green Cards. It could also make it most difficult for low-income immigrants to come to the USA.
Law of Public Charge
The government’s plan is based on the 100-year-old Law of Public Charge. In 1999, this law defined ‘public charge’ as a person who may become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.”
A public charge cannot extend a temporary visa or become a permanent citizen in the USA. The benefits currently included in this law are limited to temporary cash assistance and long-term institutional care. However, it may be changed to include a number of other benefits such as:
- Children’s health insurance
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Plan (SNAP)
- Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children, (WIC)
- Tax credits for low- to moderate-income families
- Housing subsidies
- Transit subsidies
More than half the immigrant population of the USA uses at least one public benefit program. Thus, up to a million people could be affected by this change. Illegal immigrants are already ineligible for government aid programs.
Keeping immigrants from benefitting from these programs could also slow down their integration into the American society and pose health risks. For example, if people could not immunize their children under a government benefit scheme, the child may stay unimmunized and be at risk of dangerous infections.
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