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Changes in immigration directives can harm applicants

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2019 | Immigration Law

The state of immigration in the United States is constantly changing. Even things that might seem insignificant have a major impact on people who are trying to come into this country. This is one thing that makes it very difficult for immigrants who are taking the correct steps to move here legally. They have to know how all of the laws, including recent changes, affect their cases.

One thing that is proving to be especially challenging now is that there is an uptick in the number of declined visas due to public-charge enforcement. Unfortunately, this is affecting even immigrants who are hoping to join family members who are already in the United States.

Concern about public assistance dependence

In 2018, there were changes made to the foreign affairs manual from the State Department. It makes it easier for diplomats to deny visas if there is reason to believe that the applicant will eventually become dependent upon public assistance programs. While this isn’t a law, the policy change provided the fuel that some decision-makers in the immigration process needed to cut back on the number of approvals. Some note that this method is bypassing part of the process necessary to implement sweeping and serious changes.

Part of the directive regarding possible dependence on public assistance looks into the person’s previous acceptance of it. This includes family members in the United States who are using any form of public benefits, including those for nutrition and health services like the Women, Infants and Children program or Medicaid. Before the new guideline was published, those services were excluded from consideration since they were non-cash benefits.

Proving ability to support

One way that potential immigrants can show that they aren’t going to become dependent on public assistance is to have a sponsor. To qualify as a suitable sponsor, the person has to make at least 125% of the poverty level for their family size. Still, this doesn’t matter in some cases because the policy is so broad.

Some applicants also have guaranteed jobs here when they arrive. They can bring in a document from the employer containing their pay information, but even this might not be enough. Some people who have family members in the United States, including children who are citizens, are being denied.

Mexican applicants seem to be one particular group that is suffering under this directive. The number of visas to Mexican nationals decreased by 11 percent from 2017 to 2018. Overall, the number of visas issued during that period only declined by 4.6 percent, so it is easy to see the difference. With this in mind, anyone who is petitioning for a visa should ensure they are familiar with the guidelines. Having assistance with the process might be beneficial.