December 12, Washington: Two of the top American organisations in the field of higher education have urged the Trump administration to immediately withdraw its controversial proposed public charge policy on issuing green cards or legal permanent residence status to foreign nationals.
On October 10, 2018, the Trump administration had published a proposed new rule that would change who is considered a “public charge.” Public charge is a term used in immigration law to refer to a person who is primarily dependent on the government to meet their basic needs. The new proposed rule would broaden the definition of who is to be considered a “public charge” so that it includes immigrants authorized to be in the United States who use one or more government programs listed in the proposed rule.
Under the proposed rule, if a foreign national is a beneficiary of a “public charge” which includes wide range of non-cash public benefits like use of food stamps, non-emergency Medicaid and public housing assistance, it would be difficult for him to get a green card. This would force immigrant families to make a choice between meeting basic needs and keeping their families together in the country.
For non-immigrants, including F-1 students, J-1 exchange visitors, H-1B speciality workers, or their dependents, the public charge test would be applied when they apply to extend or adjust their non-immigrant status. This rule would create additional tests and barriers for these individuals. Individuals would be subject to the public charge test each time they extend or change their status. For example, an international student with F-1 status applying for an employment status would be subject to the public charge test.
The Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, along with the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education, in a submission said the Department of Homeland Security “should immediately withdraw” its current proposal. Instead, it should rely on the 1999 policy guidance regarding public charge.
"If we want our communities to thrive, everyone in those communities must be able to stay together and get the care, services and support they need to remain healthy and productive," said the submission.
“The new public charge test would apply when individuals apply for a green card or seek admission to the US. Noting that the proposed rule could affect changes in the US talent pipeline that would ultimately undermine America's global competitiveness,” the submission added.
The public comment period for Trump’s proposed “public charge” regulation ended on December 11 and together, over 200,000 comments were delivered to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opposing the proposal. The DHS is asked to review and respond to every issue presented in the comments.