A new rule unveiled by the Trump Govt. on Monday could possibly cut legal immigration by half. The rule may deny low-income immigrants visa extension or Green Cards. The new rule is slated to come into effect by 15th October.
The new rule will deny temporary and permanent visas to applicants who do not meet the income standards. People who rely on public assistance like food stamps, welfare or Medicaid will no longer be eligible for visas.
The Trump Govt is trying to implement a merit-based immigration process. Immigration experts believe that the new rule could just be another way of preventing low-income immigrants into the US. It could deny visas to immigrants who use public benefits or the ones who do not earn enough.
The National Immigration Law Centre has announced that it will file a lawsuit to stop the rule from coming into effect.
The new rule could impact 382,000 immigrants currently in the US. The number would be much higher if the rule gets extended to overseas immigrants applying for US visas.
In January 2018, the US changed its foreign affairs manual which gives diplomats more discretion to decide visa rejections on the grounds of public charge. The last fiscal year, that ended in September saw four times the number of visa rejections in comparison to the previous year.
As per a 2018 study, 69% of all the established immigrants in the US have at least one negative factor under the Trump Govt’s wealth test. Only 39% of them had one heavily weighted positive factor.
The new rule could deter immigrants from using public benefits at all. The Trump Govt estimates it will help the US save $2.47 billion yearly on public benefits.
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of the USCIS, stated that as per law, immigrants should always rely on their own income. He says that the term “public charge” lacked proper definition. The new rule puts the definition of “public charge” as an immigrant who has used public benefits for more than 12 months in a 36-month period.
Whether an immigrant is a public charge will depend on several factors. Earning 125% above the poverty line is a positive factor. This means that an individual needs to earn at least $12,490 while a 4-member family needs to earn $25,750. It would be a negative factor if you earn any less, as per The Khaleej Times.
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