By Doug Rand
(Former White House Official on Immigration Matters)
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2019 – The Trump administration is refusing a record number of visa applications based on its ‘public charge’ policy, which redefines which would-be immigrants are likely to become dependent on government benefits in the future, significantly limiting the number of people allowed to immigrate to the United States.
New government data released yesterday reveal for the first time that the State Department’s public charge policy change first published in January 2018, is having a major impact on green card applicants abroad.
- Over 13,000 green card applicants were initially refused on public charge grounds in fiscal year 2018.
- This is a four-fold increase over fiscal year 2017, before the State Department pubic charge policy officially went into effect.
- Moreover, this is a 15-foldincrease over fiscal year 2015.
- In the five years prior to the Trump administration, effectively all public charge refusals were ultimately overcome in subsequent (and presumably successful) applications.
In effect, the State Department’s policy is creating a new barrier to legal immigration, in direct a contradiction to the president’s State of the Union address claim that he wants legal immigrants in “the largest numbers ever.”
The Department of State processes some 13 million visa and green card applications each year at United States consulates and embassies all over the world, and has been applying a tougher ‘public charge’ test since January 2018.
Consular offices have been instructed to reject applicants if they are deemed too poor, old, or unhealthy. The city of Baltimore recently sued the State Department to block this policy.
The Department of Homeland Security is also working on its own public charge rule which has received more media attention, but has not yet been enacted. The DHS rule would apply to green card and temporary visa applications filed within the United States, not from abroad.