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Government benefits immigration rule hits middle class hard

Getting government benefits can be life changing for people in difficult situations. There are probably many people in New York who were only able to survive tough times because of things like Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These kinds of benefits are there to be used by those who need them, but doing so could put certain immigration options out of reach.

Applying for a green card is already a daunting task, and now applicants will have to provide additional personal details and fill out more paperwork than ever before. This is supposed to help the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — USCIS — decide whether applicants might need government benefits in the future. If the USCIS suspects that someone would need any help in the future, it can deny his or her application.

Opponents of this rule point out that it is unfairly affecting middle-class families. According to the Pew Research Center, a family of five with a household income of $58,300 is considered middle class. But the USCIS is now much more likely to deny anyone earning less than 250% of the nation’s poverty line. For a family of five, that comes out to $76,700, well above middle class.

Income is not the only thing immigration officials will measure. Even having an auto loan or mortgage could potentially hurt someone’s chances when applying for a green card. While this can feel upsetting, it is important to understand how to maneuver through the immigration system when new rules go into effect. Speaking with an experienced attorney in New York can sometimes be helpful for getting a better understanding of things.