Covid 19 Impact on Immigration Issues

Recently, many of our clients have asked how COVID 19 has impacted their exposure to the Public Charge obligation.  As you may know, many immigrants can be found inadmissible to the US if the government believes they pose a credible threat to becoming an economic drain on society (A “Public Charge”)

They wanted to know if Testing for the COVID virus, obtaining  Unemployment Insurance or receiving a recovery rebate under the CARES Act subject them to the Public Charge rule.

COVID TESTING:

On March 13, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency will not consider “testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19” as part of a public-charge determination, , even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits (e.g., federally funded Medicaid)

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

DHS will not consider federal and state retirement, Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security Disability, post secondary education, and unemployment benefits as public benefits under the public charge inadmissibility determination as these are considered to be earned benefits through the person’s employment and specific tax deductions.  However, if someone is currently on an employment based temporary visa such as an E, H, L O or P this could result in the individual admitting to no longer being employed by his sponsor and thus, illegally in the US.

RECEIVING A RECOVERY REBATE UNDER THE CARES ACT

the CARES Act provides for the issuance of one-time payments, called recovery rebates, (or commonly known as “stimulus checks”) in the amount of $1,200 for many tax payers.

Since these payments are considered tax credits simply paid in advance of any tax filings, receipt of these payments will not be held against the immigrant in determining if they are subject to the public charge rule