NATURALIZED U.S. CITIZENS AND LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS WILL NOT BE PENALIZED FOR RECEIVING PUBLIC BENEFITS AND CAN TRAVEL ABROAD WITHOUT IMMIGRATION JEOPARDY. PROPOSED CHANGES MAY AFFECT GREEN CARD APPLICANTS ONLY, AND ARE NOT YET IN EFFECT.
Some media outlets, including Spanish language media, are mistakenly reporting that legal permanent residents (“green card” holders) who travel outside the U.S. who have received some form of public assistance, such as Medi-Cal, may lose their legal status when they attempt to return. This information is false. No green card holder or U.S. citizen is in danger of having his or her residency or citizenship revoked based on past receipt of public benefits. They continue to have the right to travel out of the country without fear of having their legal status cancelled upon their return.
Currently, the Trump Administration has proposed changing the policy regarding green card applicants who have received some form of governmental aid. Under the proposed changes, applicants for legal status can be denied if they are likely to become a “public charge,” that is, dependent on the government for their subsistence. Even then, it would only affect applicants who receive benefits after the proposed policy goes into effect. The Administration is currently accepting public comments regarding this change which has not been finalized or implemented. But this proposed change does not apply to persons who have already become legal residents or U.S. citizens.
According to Doug Keegan, an attorney for the Community Action Board in Watsonville, CA, many local residents have cancelled travel plans due to this misinformation. “U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents should not live in fear because their families have obtained nutritional or medical benefits that they qualify for and need. The public charge exclusion does not apply to them.”
For more information, please contact, Attorney Doug Keegan, at (831) 724-5667 or firstname.lastname@example.org.