A recent podcast by our west coast colleague attorney John Khosravi brought up a very insightful point that is worth repeating. As we previously discussed, the new public charge rules go into effect October 15 of this year. The rule is extraordinarily complex and well over several hundred pages. Much of the media attention has focused on the expansion of what types of programs constitute public benefits. There is understandable fear that aspiring immigrants may be deterred from applying for benefits which they desperately need out of fear that their immigration cases will be jeopardized. What has not been emphasized, however, is perhaps even more significant than what additional programs will be considered: namely, the number of factors that an officer may consider when determining whether an individual may be a public charge, and hence, ineligible for permanent residence. These include:
The best rule of thumb regarding travel during the pendency of your green card case is not to do so. We have seen a number of individuals unknowingly sabotage their adjustment of status applications by traveling outside the US without taking the proper precautions. The concept is this: when an adjustment of status application is filed with USCIS, the individual is applying to convert his/her status to that of a permanent resident inside the United States. With a few limited exceptions, any trip taken outside the US while the adjustment is pending is normally construed as abandonment of the application. Therefore, it is extremely important that if you have an I-485 pending with USCIS, you remain in the US. Any departure may result in not only a denial of the adjustment application but also potentially obstruct readmission. Worse, a departure may trigger an unlawful presence bar (either three or ten years, depending on the length of time an individual has been unlawfully present) and prevent the individual from re-entering.