Permanent Residence (Green Card)

Permanent Residence is granted to individual who has available immigrant visa number along with no “criminal history,”

and upon medical certification by a designated civil surgeon regarding the health of the individual. 

Possible bar- public charge

Public charge means a person who is likely to get dependent on Government for subsistence. Getting certain cash benefits for low income families, Medicaid with limited exceptions for emergency medical condition, Medicare Part D, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) from the Federal Government are some of the examples of it. Even benefits from state or local Governments are also considered. 

Exception: There are certain category of immigrants that are exempt or with a possible of ‘waiver’ from public charge requirements. They include:

1. Refugees; 2. Asylum individuals; 3.T- visa individuals; 4. U- visa individuals; 5. TPS individuals; 6. Immigrants granted relief under Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA); 7.NACARA, and HRIFA individuals.

Certain factors such as age, assets, health, economic conditions, education background, and skills may be considered when determining waiver from public charge.

Whenever possible, it is better to steer away from public benefits due to the potential impact it may have on immigration related benefits.

For employment based immigrants, it is a “must” to steer away from public benefits at-least until Citizenship except under unforeseen hardship factors for public charge purposes. Very miniscual of EB immigrant applicants face this issue.

Possible bar-criminal history

Criminal history including felony, Driving Under Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) etc may drastically impact the immigration benefits and may be barred from gaining permanent residence, and naturalization later on. Even those expunged criminal records must be reported on I-485 form. Failure to include these kinds of information result in “material misrepresentation,” to USCIS. That may lead to revocation after approval, prosecution of a criminal case for misrepresentation etc.

Marijuana is a federal controlled substance. Even though it is de-criminalized and recreational in some states, successful prosecution at the federal or state level related to Marijuana possession, sale, or trafficking may lead to bar for immigration benefit purposes. This is a based on recent USCIS notification regarding Marijuana and federally controlled substance.

Traffic tickets, points on driving never impact immigration benefits.

Immediate family inclusion

Principal beneficiary need to make sure that spouse and any children who are not married under the age of 21 be included as dependents in form I-485 application. They also receive permanent residence along with the principal beneficiary rather than applying later on derivative beneficiary category.