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US Immigration: What you need to know about the new public charge rules

Q. I am a U.S. citizen. I petitioned for green cards for my parents who live abroad. If the U.S. consul schedules their interview after the public charge rules change on October 15, will the new rules apply to them?

M.

A. No. The new public charge rules don’t apply to green card applicants applying at U.S. consulates abroad. It applies only to applicants for adjustment of status – the process of interviewing for permanent residence in the United States. So, rules changes on Oct. 15 won’t impact your parent’s applications. Still, the new public charge rules send a message to consular officers: be stricter when deciding immigrant visa applications.

Most family-based green card applicants must prove that they are not “likely to become a public charge.” That is, to need public assistance to live in the United States. That rule has been in place for many decades. Though the new rules don’t apply to applicants at consulates, I urge your parents and others take extra care to prove that they won’t become public charges.

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