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  • Writer's pictureMary Asomaning

Recent Immigration Changes That You Need to Know About

It is no surprise that immigration policies have been continuously changing under this administration. However, the month of February was particularly interesting. Here are two major changes that you should know about.

New Travel Ban

On February 21, 2020, the prior Travel ban was expanded to include 6 NEW countries: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. Many foreign nationals from the travel ban countries were taken by surprise and upset about its potential impact.

Basically, immigrants from the new travel ban countries (excluding Sudan and Tanzania), will not be allowed to enter the US with an immigrant visa unless they qualify for a waiver or have provided special assistance to the US government. Immigrant visas are the primary method for individuals to bring their family members to the US. In Sudan and Tanzania the travel ban only applies to immigrants seeking entry to the US under the Diversity Lottery Program.

One important note is that the travel ban does NOT apply to non-immigrant visas, which allow immigrants to enter the US temporarily as a tourist, student, business visitor, or temporary worker. The travel ban also does not apply to foreign nationals from the impacted countries who are currently in the US seeking green cards through adjustment of status applications.

New Public Charge Rule

On February 24, 2020, the new Public Charge Rule was instituted. Contrary to popular belief, the public charge rule is not new. Dependency on government resources has always been a negative factor in green card eligibility. Hence, the need for a financial sponsor. However, the current public charge rules seek to clarify the definition of public charge, and it identifies which benefits will put you at risk of being considered a public charge.

Here are a few public benefits which may have a negative impact on your application:

· SNAP (food stamps) and/or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

· SSI (Supplemental Security Income)

· Section 8 Housing or Public Housing assistance

· Medicaid – with some exclusions (i.e. emergency treatment or prenatal care)

· Any Federal, State or local cash benefit programs

In addition to the new guidelines, green card applicants must now submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, to show that they are not likely to become a public charge. This new 18-page form evaluates factors related to your age, health, family status, assets, resources, and financial status, education and skills, prospective immigration status, and period of stay.

Please note that certain green card applicants, such as VAWA applicants (Violence Against Women Act), asylum seekers, or other humanitarian visa applicants (i.e. T and U visas), are NOT subject to the public charge rule.

As you can see, professional legal assistance is increasingly important as these new policies, and heightened scrutiny is applied to immigration filings. Don’t risk a denial by navigating these new immigration policies. If you or someone you know may be affected by these policies, please contact our office for a consultation to assess your specific situation.

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