Posts Tagged ‘lawful permanent resident’

In immigration terms, “Public charge” means a foreign national who has become or is likely to become “dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at the expense of the government.”

A foreign national who will become a public charge is inadmissible and does not qualify to become a legal permanent resident (green card holder) of the US. You will also face deportation if you have become a public charge within five years after your date of entry in to the US. However, regarding deportation, an immigration judge is the one who will have the final say.

Found to be a public charge, it will result in straight rejection of an application to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident status by the USCIS, denial of an immigrant visa to enter the US by the US Consulates, or might also lead to deportation in certain circumstances.

Merely receiving any publicly funded services will not make a foreign national a public charge, or indicate that he/she is likely to become a public charge. In fact, there are many benefits that foreign nationals may receive that will not render them a public charge. Mainly, the nature of the public program has to be considered while deciding if one will become a public charge or not. Attending public schools, school lunch or other supplemental nutrition programs, or getting emergency medical care would not make one inadmissible as a public charge, though they use public funds.

The following public benefits may render a foreign national a public charge:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Cash assistance from the TANF program
  • State or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance (General Assistance) programs
  • Public assistance, including Medicaid for foreign nationals who reside in an institution for long-term care, such as a nursing home or mental health institution.

Availing such forms of public cash assistance could make one a public charge. It is also important to note that short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation is not subject to public charge.

Remember that not all cash assistance is provided for purposes of income maintenance. So not all forms of cash assistance is relevant for public charge purposes. Some energy assistance programs provide supplemental benefits through cash payments depending on the locality and the type of fuel needed. Similarly, cash payments can also be provided for childcare assistance. Such supplemental cash benefits should not be considered as public charge because they are not evidence of primary dependence on the government for subsistence.


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As a Lawful Permanent Resident, if you have to travel abroad for a considerable length of time, make sure you take certain steps to assure that your permanent resident status is not lost.

As a LPR, you have to file tax returns under all circumstances with the IRS annually. Filing a tax return as a LPR does not necessarily mean that you should actually pay income tax if you are employed overseas, because treaties and foreign tax credits may minimize the tax amount actually paid to the IRS.

If you are employed abroad or have to travel overseas for a considerable length of time, it can prove handy if your immediate family members, including any spouse, children, and parents remain in the US. Having strong family ties to the US shows your intention to keep your permanent resident status.

Employment abroad is one of the most commonly used reason why LPRs are absent from the US for a long period. A written statement from the employer, or an employment contract identifying the length of the overseas job, will be of much help with regard to the LPR’s intention to maintain his/her permanent resident status.

If you are not engaged in overseas employment and have no family members in the US, find ways to establish other strong ties.Before leaving the US, open a bank account with a US bank, and leave it open and use it during your stay abroad.

If you wish to remain outside the US for more than one year, but less than two years, you can apply for a re-entry permit. As mentioned earlier, if you travel abroad for a period longer than one year, you face a risk of denial of admission into the US on the ground that you have abandoned your permanent resident status. A Re-entry Permit solves this problem.

A prolonged absence from the US will break the continuity of your residence in the US for naturalization purposes. However, it will not affect your ability to return to the US as a permanent resident.

In order to qualify for American Citizenship, you must reside in the US for a continuous period of five years after lawful admission to the US as a permanent resident and prior to filing the citizenship form. If you are married to a US citizen, you must reside in the US for a continuous period of three years after being admitted to the US as a permanent resident and prior to application for naturalization. Apart form this , you must physically reside in the US for at least half of the period required for continuous residence. However, spouses of US citizens who are US military personnel or who have overseas employment with US employers are exempted from these requirements.

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