COVID-19 and the U.S. Public Charge Rule

The “public charge” analysis or determination only applies to individuals seeking a green card or seeking permanent resident status in the U.S.  These individuals must prove they will be self-sufficient not be a “public charge” or rely on Federal or State public benefits.  Note, “public charge” does not apply to a U.S. citizen or someone who already has a green card or permanent residency in the U.S.

  1. Will getting tested, treatment or preventative care for COVID-19 impact my immigration application under the public charge rule? NO. 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, nor as related to the public benefit condition applicable to certain nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status, even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits (e.g., federally funded Medicaid). USCIS is encouraging anyone with symptoms that resemble COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventive services. USCIS has indicated that such treatment or preventive service “will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future public charge analysis.”
  2. Will obtaining unemployment insurance impact my immigration application under the public charge rule? NO. Unemployment insurance payments are not generally taken into consideration by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for purposes of making a public charge determination. As DHS explained in its final rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds, “DHS would notconsider 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.”
  3. Will receiving a recovery rebate under the CARES Act impact my immigration application under the public charge rule? NO. On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion dollar economic recovery package. The package offers relief to state and local governments, individuals, small and large businesses, and hospitals affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In particular, the CARES Act provides for the issuance of one-time payments, called recovery rebates, (or commonly known as “stimulus checks”) to help individuals recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 can receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Married couples filing a joint tax return are eligible to receive a payment of $2,400, as long as their adjusted gross income is less than $150,000. Eligible individuals can also receive an additional $500 for each eligible child under the age of 17.. The recovery rebates are structured as automatically advanced tax credits to be disbursed by the Treasury Department. The DHS final rule on inadmissibility on public charge grounds is clear that tax credits are not taken into account for the purpose of a public charge determination.

For more information on Public Charge Rule,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Travel Restrictions Brazil to USA

On Sunday, May 24, 2020, the Trump administration issued the following proclamation that reads in part, “I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.”

Why was this travel restrictions Brazil to USA issued? 

As of May 24, 2020, Brazil had more than 347,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Who is exempt from travel restrictions Brazil to USA?

U.S. citizens, permanent residents and spouses of U.S. citizens are among those exempted from the newly introduced travel ban.

When does travel restrictions Brazil to USA end?

This is meant to be temporary in nature but no end date has been provided.

For more information on Travel Restrictions Brazil to USA

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Eligibility for U.S. Government Benefits due to Coronavirus and Public Charge Rule

With over 30 million people unemployed in the U.S. and availability of certain U.S. government benefits, many lawful permanent residents (or green card holders) and temporary non-immigrant visa holders are confused as to what benefits they can apply for and use without being considered a “public charge”. We will try to address some of the common questions about public charge and U.S. government benefits under coronavirus. 

Do people with green cards need to worry about using government services due to the coronavirus? No. The current public charge rule applies to people seeking to obtain a green card and does not apply to those who already have a green card. The new rule also requires those seeking to extend or change their nonimmigrant status to submit information on public benefits use.  This means that lawful permanent residents—those who already have green cards—do not need to worry about triggering the harsh effects of the public charge rule by using government services during the coronavirus.

Does filing for unemployment put someone at risk under public charge? No. When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the public charge rule, it made clear that receiving unemployment benefits is not considered to be receiving a “public benefit.” This is because unemployment is an “earned benefit” that workers pay into with their paychecks. This includes Medicare and Social Security.  People seeking to file for unemployment generally must be legally authorized to work. Some states extend unemployment benefits to individuals with DACA, while others do not.

Does receiving government support for a coronavirus test put someone at risk under public charge No. Guidance posted on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website says that “USCIS will neither consider testing, treatment, nor preventative care (including vaccines, if a vaccine becomes available) related to COVID-19 as part of a public charge inadmissibility determination.”  The rule itself also exempts the use of Medicaid benefits for treatment of an “emergency medical condition.” Immigrants should not worry about using emergency Medicaid if they become sick with the virus and need treatment.

Could a period of unemployment due to the coronavirus put someone at risk under public charge? Maybe. Immigrants who are laid off due to the coronavirus could have their diminished financial wellbeing counted against them if they apply for a green card in the future or are forced to rely on public benefits to survive.  However, USCIS has indicated that individuals in that situation should provide additional evidence along with their application for a green card. They can explain that the hardship was due to COVID-19.

For more information on Coronavirus and Public Charge Rule,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Trump Suspends Entry for 60 days for Certain Immigrants

On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.  This proclamation is viewed by many as a political maneuver by Trump to appeal to his anti-immigrant followers and is redundant since most visa issuances ALREADY stalled due to no interviews in U.S. offices and Embassies through June 2020.  The proclamation will be valid from April 23, 2020 until June 23, 2020.

The proclamation became effective on Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM (ET), and APPLIES to any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant (or lawful permanent resident/green card holder) who:

  • Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
  • Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and

The temporary suspension of entry into the U.S. DOES NOT APPLY to:

  1. Lawful permanent residents (LPR)
  2. Spouses and children under 21 of US Citizens immigrating to the US through US Embassy/ US Consulate process
  3. All Foreign Nationals in the US applying for Permanent Residency through Adjustment of Status applications with USCIS
  4. All non-immigrant applicants applying through US Embassy/ US Consulate processing for temporary visas such as E-2, H1B, H-2B, E-3, L-1, O, P, F-1, B-1 and B-2 visitors visas etc.
  5. All EB-5 investors applying for Conditional Permanent Residency through the US Embassy/ US Consulate.
  6. Does not apply to Foreign Nationals who already have an immigrant visa in their passport and are outside the US.
  7. Individuals, and their spouses or children, seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees)
  8. Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of DHS and State based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees)
  9. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
  10. Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification)
  11. Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).

For more information on Trump Suspends Entry for 60 days,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Immigration Closure? What about my case?

Processing of immigration petitions continue during the coronavirus pandemic.  The only services that have been temporarily suspended are in-person services and face-to-face interviews.

Immigration petitions can be filed on-line or by mail with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  All immigration forms are being accepted and processed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and receipt notices continue to be issued.  At the local field offices, all interview and biometrics appointments have been canceled and new appointments will be mailed to applicants automatically once the offices resume normal operations.

During the immigration closure, any response due to Form I-290B, Requests for Evidence (RFE) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOID), Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) or Notice of Intent to Terminate (NOIT) will received an additional 60 calendar days after the stated response due date or deadline to give applicants additional time to respond.

As for U.S. Embassies, all interviews have also been canceled and will be rescheduled when the Embassy resumes normal operations.  Most U.S. Embassies continue to respond to email communications.  Embassy email addresses can be found on their websites.

U.S. Immigration Courts continue to accept filings and for most courts, filings can be submitted by mail.  No extension has been issued for filing deadlines.  All non-detained master and individual hearings scheduled through May 1, 2020, have been postponed or canceled and will be automatically rescheduled.  As for individuals who are detained, call your attorney or contact the detention center for clarification on upcoming hearings.

With regards to Immigration & Custom Enforcement (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Offices operations, it is on a case-by-case basis.  We recommend calling your local ICE office by using this website: https://www.ice.gov/contact/ero.  If you have a reporting date or need to post a bond, then call your local ICE office for information on office opening and closure.

For more information on immigration closure,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Thinking of having your baby in the U.S. – think twice!

The Trump administration implemented new rules in January 2020 that could make it more difficult for pregnant foreign nationals to travel to the United States using tourist visas to give birth to their child in the U.S.  The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”  So, parents do not need to be U.S. citizens – once a child is born in the U.S. then that child is a U.S. citizen, regardless of parent’s citizenship.

The new rules attempt to crack down on “birth tourism,” or the practice of giving birth in the United States to obtain U.S. citizenship for a child. It’s not clear how consular officials at the U.S. Embassy will determine whether individuals seeking to travel to the U.S. are pregnant. The rule calls for officials to reject the visa applications of individuals whose “primary purpose” is obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth.

The new rules also tighten the restrictions on traveling to the U.S. to seek medical treatment.

The department said it will deny visas to those seeking medical treatment if they are unable to establish “to the satisfaction of a consular officer” that there exists a legitimate medical reason for treatment and that a practitioner or facility in the U.S. has agreed to provide it.

The rule amends 22 CFR 41.31 to include three paragraphs.

The first paragraph, amends the Department of State’s regulations on B nonimmigrant visas to clarify that tourism for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States, or “birth tourism,” is not a permissible activity for a temporary visitor visa, or B visa.

The second paragraph codifies current standards for obtaining a B nonimmigrant visa for the primary purpose of obtaining medical treatment, requiring such individuals to provide documentation showing that a physician and/or hospital has agreed to provide the treatment and that the applicant has the means to provide payment for all expenses, including incidentals, either independently or with prearranged assistance of others.

Lastly, those individuals with B-1/B-2 visas who have used their visa to give birth to a child in the U.S. are at risk to have their visas revoked and canceled.

For more information on rules regarding having a baby in the U.S.,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Trump Expands Travel Ban to Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania

Trump expands travel ban 3.0 upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court to Africa’s biggest country, Nigeria, as well as Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania. The proclamation, which President Trump was expected to sign on January 31, 2020, will take effect on February 22. The ban would prevent immigrant and non-immigrant visas from being issued however, a waiver is available but very difficult.

All of the newly added six countries have substantial Muslim populations. The total number of countries now on the restricted travel list stands at 13 – Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia AND Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan and Tanzania.

The effect on Nigeria, not only Africa’s most populous country but also its largest economy, could be particularly severe. The United States issued more than 7,920 immigrant visas to Nigerians in the 2018 fiscal year, the second-most of any African country.

“We’re adding a couple of countries” to the ban, Trump told reporters at a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe. You see what’s going on in the world. Our country has to be safe,” he said.

For more information on Trump expands travel ban,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Green Card Denials at U.S. Embassy based on Public Charge

New rules are being applied at the U.S. Embassy to determine if an immigrant visa applicant will be a “public charge.”  One of the changes decrease the weight given to the affidavit of support in deciding whether a person is likely to become a public charge. Previously, a qualifying affidavit of support (Form I-864) was generally sufficient to establish that an immigrant visa applicant was not likely to become a public charge.

An affidavit of support still must be submitted, where required, but the weight it carries has diminished. Now, a “properly filed and sufficient Form I-864 may not necessarily overcome a denial on public charge at Embassy interview.  Instead, it is merely one, “positive factor” as part of the totality of the circumstances test.

The “totality of the circumstances” involves consideration of other factors such as the applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills.  This test is not new, but the fact that an affidavit of support that meets the financial requirements has been reduced in weight to simply one factor of many is new. A sufficient affidavit of support generally was considered adequate evidence that the person had overcome any public charge concerns. It is now considered only a factor in the assessment of whether an immigrant will be a public charge or dependent on U.S. government benefits such as medicaid or food stamps.

Thereby, expect to see the language below in denial notices for green cards issued by the U.S. Embassy:

Examples of documents to bring to the Embassy interview to overcome public charge at embassy interview:

  • For older applicants: health records showing they are in good health despite advanced age
  • Proof of private medical insurance, or other proof of how the applicant pays for healthcare
  • Proof of on-going relationship with petitioner and joint sponsor (i.e. recent emails, pictures, screenshot of social media post where chatting and interacting)
  • If joint sponsor is not related, declaration of joint sponsor briefly explaining their commitment to support the applicant
  • Proof of applicant’s job offer or job with decent salary and savings in bank account
  • Copies of applicant’s degrees, certificates, licenses, etc. to show education, skills, and overall “employability”

All immigrant visa (green card) applicants appearing for their interview at the U.S. Embassy need to be aware that more documentary evidence (besides a Form I-864 affidavit of support) will be required to prevent a denial based on public charge at embassy interview.

For more information on public charge at embassy interview,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2020, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Green Card through New Spouse if Form I-751 Denied

Effective November 21, 2019, a new policy guidance applies the case law Matter of Stockwell and clarifying when USCIS may adjust the status of an alien whose Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) status has been terminated due to Form I-751 denied . An immigration judge does not need to affirm the termination of CPR status before the alien can file a new adjustment of status application.

An applicant/immigrant obtains conditional permanent resident status either based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (if the marriage is less than two years at the time the alien adjusts status or is admitted for lawful permanent resident status) or based on an immigrant investor (EB-5) visa.

In the past, when Form I-751 was denied, the applicant/immigrant had to wait for a master hearing date in immigration court for the immigration judge to review the Form I-751 denied and to terminate conditional resident status before the applicant/immigrant could marry another spouse and file for adjustment of status.

However, under the new policy, the applicant/immigrant does not have to go to immigration court to have status terminated.  USCIS may adjust an alien’s status if their Conditional Permanent Resident status has been terminated by a Form I-751 denied and:

The alien has a new basis for adjustment of status;
The alien is otherwise eligible to adjust status; and
USCIS has jurisdiction over the adjustment of status application.
Time spent in the prior CPR status does not count toward the residency requirements for naturalization.

This guidance applies to adjustment of status applications filed with USCIS on or after Nov. 21, 2019

For more information on Form I-751 Denied,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.

Proposal Changing Work Permit for Asylum

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a proposed rule to deter aliens from illegally entering the United States and from filing frivolous, fraudulent or otherwise non-meritorious asylum applications to obtain work permit for asylum.

The proposed rule will better allow USCIS to extend protections to those with bona fide asylum claims. USCIS also seeks to prevent certain criminal aliens from obtaining work authorization before the merits of their asylum application are adjudicated.

As directed by the presidential memorandum, USCIS proposes to:

  • Prevent aliens who entered the United States illegally from obtaining work permit for pending asylum application, with limited exceptions; and
  • Automatically terminate employment authorization when an applicant’s asylum denial is administratively final.

Additionally, USCIS proposes to:

  • Clarify that an asylum applicant’s failure to appear for a required appointment may lead to dismissal of their asylum application and/or denial of their application for employment authorization;
  • Prevent aliens who fail to file their asylum application within one year of their latest entry as required by law from obtaining work authorization; and
  • Render any alien who has been convicted in the United States of any federal or state felony, or convicted of certain public safety offenses involving child abuse, domestic violence, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, ineligible for employment authorization.

Unresolved arrests or pending charges may result in the denial of the application for employment authorization as a matter of discretion.

For more information on Work Permit for Asylum,

text/call 407-292-7730 | whatsapp 407-353-1363 |email gail@gaillaw.com

FREE phone & in-office consultation – FREE Live Chat www.GailLaw.com

Copyright © 2019, Law Offices of Gail S. Seeram. All Rights Reserved.