Immigration Status & Public Charge

Headline:

USCIS has issued automatic green card extensions for renewal and naturalization applicants.

Last-reviewed: 4pm, Jan. 19, 2023

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • Many families are mixed status, meaning members have different immigration statuses. This is because things like country of origin, date of entry, relationships, age, traumatic experiences can all effect an individual person’s status.

The Breakdown

  • Immigration Court: Care teams can help people navigate the operating rules of their local Immigration Court. Care teams can also help people find case information online with their 9-digit alien registration number (A-#########) or by calling the Executive Office of Administration Review at 1-800-898-7180.
  • Application Status: Care teams can help people find information about their application status online with their 13-digit receipt number (three letters followed by ten numbers).
  • Delays: Processing times for immigration applications are significantly delayed. Care teams can help people can check the average processing times based on location and application type.
  • Extensions: During COVID-19, USCIS automatically gave people an additional 60 days to respond to certain agency requests. This policy will expire on January 24, 2023. After January 24, care teams can refer applicants back to their USCIS notice for the due date.
  • Asylum: Title 42 allows the federal government to expel asylum-seekers at the southern border. Care teams can help educate people who may be relying on the old policy that allowed people to stay in the U.S. while their asylum applications were processed.
  • Naturalization: When lawful permanent residents apply for naturalization, USCIS will automatically extend their green card for 24 months. USCIS has also simplified the disability waiver to make the naturalization process more accessible for applicants with disabilities. To ensure they have up-to-date information, care teams can refer people to the USCIS Naturalization page.
  • Temporary Protected Status: DHS designates countries for TPS when conditions make it unsafe for nationals to return, allowing them to apply to stay in the U.S. legally. Care teams can help people use USCIS to see if their country is on the list and find application materials.
  • Humanitarian Parole: Parole allows people to enter the U.S. and remain in the U.S. lawfully.  Parole can be granted based on the personal need or public benefit. Haitian and Venezuelan paroles were recently extended. To ensure they have up-to-date information, care teams can refer people to the USCIS Humanitarian Parole page.
  • Legal Permanent Residents: When lawful permanent residents apply to renew their status, USCIS now automatically extends their green card for 24 months. To ensure they have up-to-date information, care teams can refer people to the USCIS Green Card Renewal page.
  • DACA: Care teams can refer current DACA recipients that although USCIS is not accepting new applications, current DACA recipients can still renew their status. DACA recipients must use the new renewal form.
  • Visas: Some visa types have limits to how many can be issued each year. After reaching the cap for H2-B visas for non-agricultural temporary works, the limit was raised. For up-to-date information, care teams can refer people to the US State Dept.
  • Work Authorization: When certain applicants apply to renew their work authorization, they will have a 540-day automatic extension. People with pending U-Visa applications are also now eligible to obtain employment authorization. Care teams can find information on who qualifies for this extension at the USCIS Employment Authorization page.

Spotlight on public charge:

Many immigrants who are applying for legal permanent residency are concerned about the public charge test affecting their application.

  • Financial assistance programs are considered for the public charge test. This includes TANF, SSI, and general cash assistance.
  • Nutrition assistance programs are not considered for the public charge test. This includes SNAP, P-EBT, WIC, school lunch, summer meals, and food pantries.
  • Additional programs. This includes Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization), public housing, Section 8 vouchers, Fuel assistance (LIHEAP) and the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Care teams can provide people who are concerned about public charge with resources from Protecting Immigrant Families (available in 9 languages).

The Bottom Line

  • Care teams can help families navigate immigration-related resources and demystify the evolving immigration policy landscape, especially as it relates to public charge.