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Supreme Court permits new ‘wealth test’ rules for green card seekers

The U.S. grants green cards to over one million immigrants each year. Immigration officials choose who will become permanent residents based on a number of factors, including: the applicant’s health, criminal background and whether they may be a security risk.

Now, officials will also consider your wealth when determining whether you will receive a green card.

The Supreme Court recently voted to allow new “wealth test” rules for immigrants. These rules make it easier for officials to deny immigrants green cards if the immigrants have used – or are likely to use – public-assistance programs.

Who is at risk?

The new rules provide “negative” factors for officials to consider when reviewing green card applications. If one of these factors applies to you, your chances of getting a green card decrease. These factors include:

  • Unemployment
  • Inability to speak English
  • Not completing high school

You may also be at risk if you’ve used benefits for 12 months in a three-year period. If you’ve used more than one benefit at a time, that amount of time is counted twice. For example, if you used housing assistance and food stamps together for three months, it counts as six months total.

Other public benefits included under the new rules include Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid.

It’s important to note that the rule change does not apply to current green card holders. It also excludes:

  • Certain members of the military
  • Refugees or asylum seekers
  • Pregnant women

What is the purpose of the rule change?

The intent of the rule change is to ensure American taxpayers are not financially burdened by green card holders. Supporters of the change believe it’s a successful way to guarantee new residents are financially independent.

However, many view the rule change as prejudiced and unjust. America has a history of being one of the most accepting nations in the world, where we judge newcomers by their disposition – not their money.

Challengers of the rule also worry it will have long-term negative effects. These may include:

  • Billions of dollars in economic loss from taxes and income of would-be immigrants
  • More immigrants turning to food shelves emergency healthcare instead of federal benefits – which could cost local and state governments millions of dollars

The new rules may have good intentions behind them, but they have the ability to negatively impact millions of people. Furthermore, they could have a harmful effect on America as a whole.

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