Department of Homeland Security Issues Proposed Regulation Hindering Work Visas

September 28, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed regulation that would block workers who have used public assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid from obtaining a green card or work visa, including those changing or extending current H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 work visas.

The proposal greatly expands the definition of who is a “public charge” and thus disqualified from obtaining a visa.  In addition to adding to the list of types of public assistance that would disqualify an individual seeking to live and/or work in the U.S., the proposal would factor things such as credit scores and financial liabilities, even for immigrants who have never used government benefits.

More to come?  News reports have indicated further long-awaited proposed regulations may be on their way.  These potentially include:

  • The rescission of work permits for the spouses of H-1B workers;
  • Creating a pre-registration program for employers seeking H-1B visas that are subject to the annual cap; and
  • Redefining H-1B eligibility criteria and what counts as an “employer-employee relationship.”

Looking ahead:  The comment period is now open for the proposed “public charge” rule.  It is expected that the proposal will draw a high number of critical comments as well as litigation aimed at the proposal’s measure to block people from obtaining a visa for public assistance used in the past.