Why there is a public charge rule: College student on Medicaid wants to sponsor parent

A question was posted recently to the Bringing Family Members of US Citizens to America forum on VisaJourney with the title Medicaid use by sponsor. The forum member has been on Medicaid while learning full-time in college. He plans to be the financial sponsor on his parent's immigration application, so he wants to know if his use of Medicaid will cause the application to be rejected.

He says he plans to get medical insurance through his employer after he graduates, adding hopefully that his starting salary will be in six figures.

Under United States law, every immigration application based on a relative petition must have a financial sponsor. If the sponsor files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, he will have to file an affidavit of support. If the financial sponsor does not qualify, he will still have to file a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support and will also have to find one or two cosponsors who meet the requirements.

Definition of a Public Charge

An alien who is likely to become a public charge is inadmissible to the U.S. and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident, which is evidenced by possession of a “green card”. A public charge is defined as an alien who has received one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period.

When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers make a public charge inadmissibility determination, they review the totality of an alien’s circumstances, including the following factors:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Family status
  • Assets, resources, and financial status
  • Education and skills
  • Prospective immigration status
  • Expected period of admission
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.

The only factor which, by itself, can make an alien inadmissible based on the public charge ground is not filing a Form I-864 when required.

The Affidavit of Support

An individual who signs a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support has made a contractual agreement to use his financial resources to support the “intending immigrant”. Once the intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident, the individual who signed the affidavit of support becomes the immigrant's sponsor. In most cases, the sponsor is the petitioner who filed an immigrant petition to begin the process.

If the petitioner’s income is insufficient, one or two joint-sponsors (cosponsors) are needed to complete their own I-864 on behalf of the applicant.

The forum member who submitted the question described at the top of this post uses Medicaid to pay for his own health expenses. In a case where the intending immigrant himself uses Medicaid, that weighs in favor of his being deemed inadmissible under the public charge rule. Surely a person who is on Medicaid is in no position to guarantee the financial support of the intending immigrant!

The original poster is advised by forum members to seek a cosponsor for the parent's immigration application.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not legal advice.