Since 1999, immigration officers have adopted the guiding principle that a public charge is someone “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” For example, any immigrant who uses public cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term care at the government expense would be considered a public charge.
You may be wondering, can a green card holder get deported if they become a public charge?
Green Card Holders & Public Charge
The federal Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) states that "any alien who, within five years after the date of entry, has become a public charge from causes not affirmatively shown to have arisen since entry is deportable." (See I.N.A. § 237(a)(5).).
Although the law technically states that a lawful permanent resident can be deportable if they become a public charge, the laws are actually much more complex. The test for deportability on the basis of public charge can be difficult – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, a healthy person who obtains a green card gets in an accident and then needs government assistance would not be deportable on public charge grounds. In a similar situation, a person significantly impacted by the recent health pandemic would likely not face deportation for relying on the government during unprecedented times.
If you believe that you may be in trouble because you used government assistance for a period of time, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Our compassionate immigration law firm treats every case as a priority and devotes the time necessary to resolve each case in a thorough, caring, and comprehensive manner. We take the time needed to ensure that our clients have the best possible chances of obtaining successful outcomes.
Contact our Orange County immigration attorneys today at (949) 478-4963 to schedule a consultation!