We submitted comments this week on the Trump administration’s proposal to overhaul how the government evaluates whether a would-be immigrant is “not likely to be a public charge”—that is, not likely to use public benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid, a requirement of many visa categories and green card applications.
The administration’s proposed new definition would require an extended investigation into an immigrant’s history and job prospects, and give wide-ranging discretion to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reject an immigrant’s application for admission, an extension, or change of status. It also would allow USCIS to reject applications from non-immigrants such as international students seeking student visas.
At issue is how the government looks at public benefits an immigrant has already used or is likely to use. While only cash benefits are considered right now, the new approach would include Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Section 8 and other housing benefits, and Medicare Part D subsidies for low-income earners.
In comments submitted on behalf of 31 other higher education associations, we expressed concern over how the proposed change would impact American students with immigrant family members as well as international students, including graduate and professional students who upon graduation may become legally employed in the United States.
Although Title IV programs are not included in the definition, we requested that they be specifically excluded to help curb a potential chilling effect on first-generation American college students. We also asked for F-1 and J-1 student and exchange visitors to be excluded—we believe the expansion of public charge to apply to non-immigrants will create further delays in visa processing and discourage international students and scholars from coming to the United States.
To read our comments in full, click here.