Immigrants and Public Benefits What makes an immigrant a “public charge” Influx of Immigrants to U.S. CIS Definitions of Public Charge What is a public charge and when does it apply? • “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” – public cash assistance for income maintenance – institutionalization for long-term care at government expense No Public Charge Requirement to Naturalize • Does not apply in naturalization proceedings. • Ground of removal? • Naturalized citizens cannot lose their citizenship because of use of public benefits Totality of the Circumstances Test • How is it determined whether someone is likely to become a public charge for admission or adjustment purposes? • Age • Health • Family status • Assets • Resources • Financial status • Education and skills Some benefits not public charge Non-cash benefits (other than institutionalization for long-term care) are generally not taken into account for purposes of a public charge determination. Specific Programs Exempt from Public Charge Determinations • Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases; use of health clinics, short-term rehabilitation services, and emergency medical services) other than support for long-term institutional care • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) • Nutrition programs, including Food Stamps, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs • School financial Aid Other programs not considered Public Charge • Housing benefits • Child care services • Energy assistance, • Emergency disaster relief • Foster care and adoption assistance • Educational assistance (such as attending public school), including benefits under the Head Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary, or higher education • Job training programs • In-kind, community-based programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter) Who is eligible to receive public benefits? • LPRs who entered the US after August 21, 1996 are ineligible for food stamps and SSI until they become citizens or have 40 quarters of work. • No FEDERAL TANF and Medicaid for five years or, at state option, until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work . • Applies to any means-tested benefit or service provided with FEDERAL TANF funds, including job training and work supports. Add’l eligibility requirements • LPRs who entered before August 22, 1996 remain eligible for SSI (except for non-disabled elderly immigrants who were not already receiving SSI on August 22, 1996) and, at state option, for TANF and Medicaid. TANF eligibility requirements • Adult LPRs who entered before August 22, 1996 are ineligible for food stamps unless they are disabled, were aged 65 or older on August 22, 1996, or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. • Refugees and asylees remain eligible during their first five (TANF) or seven years (food stamps, Medicaid, SSI) in the United States. After this initial period of eligibility, states have the option to either continue eligibility or to limit TANF and Medicaid eligibility to those immigrants who have obtained citizenship or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. Sponsors of Immigrants: Repayment for benefits received? • Before welfare law, sponsor deeming could occur during their first THREE YEARS. • Deeming is now required until they obtain citizenship or have worked for 40 quarters. • The new rules extend deeming to Medicaid. • The agency that provided the benefits may sue the sponsor for reimbursement of the benefits. Undocumented Immigrants • States and local governments may not provide public benefits, including nonemergency health care benefits, to immigrants who are not lawfully residing in the United States, unless they enact a state law after August 22, 1996 which "affirmatively provides for such eligibility." Nor may state and local governments restrict their employees from reporting any immigrants to the INS. How much does that wall cost? Confidentiality not required for state agencies requesting eligibility info • immigrant families cannot be sure that information they provide when applying for benefits for eligible family members, including citizen children, will be kept confidential. OHP • legal immigrants who have been in the country less than five years are not eligible for the Oregon Health Plan. • LPR residing under 5 years in the U.S. cannot get federally funded temporary cash assistance to carry him/her over to the next job. State Assistance in Oregon • Oregon provides job training and temporary cash assistance to those immigrants no longer eligible for federal help. Who is Eligible to Immigrate? • • • • • 1. Why don’t they wait in line? 2. Spouses of U.S. citizens 3. Children of U.S. citizens 4. Other family members 5. Waiver processing Children Not Born in the U.S. • Situations where parents are legal but children are not: adult child petitions for parents • Situations of one adult member in household is legal but other is not (EWI) • Split children (some USCs others not): abuse and U visa options What Can Be Done? • Most people not eligible • Immigration reform – What would a good reform look like? Note on the Canadian System • Issue is whether we should move to a point-based system as opposed to a more family-based system Is language ability important? Is level of education important? Temporary visas for low level workers? What to do about all those who have been waiting for so long?