A final rule released by the US Department of Homeland Security will make it more difficult for foreign nationals who use public benefits to adjust or extend their immigration status in the United States based on their likelihood of becoming a “public charge” in the future. The rule also expands the list of programs that can lead to a public charge determination to those that provide healthcare and social services to vulnerable populations including Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, TANF, and federal housing benefits.
While certain exclusions exist to the definition of “public charge,” a number of lawsuits have already been filed challenging the application of the final rule and citing the potential to adversely impact access to healthcare services. In this LawFlash, our global employment and immigration team addresses the implications of the final rule for employers who sponsor foreign national employees. With nearly 20% of the healthcare workforce born outside of the United States, employers sponsoring foreign nationals for nonimmigrant visas or US permanent residence will want to ensure that these employees become familiar with the list of public benefits that could result in a finding of “public charge” inadmissibility.