Trump Administration Rule will now look at immigrant’s Credit Histories
Earlier this month the Trump administration implemented comprehensive changes to U.S. immigration policy including an initiative to allow the Government to consider the credit history of prospective immigrants
The rule change will effectively make it more difficult for prospective U.S. immigrants and legal immigrants to obtain permanent residency if they are reliant on social programs such as Food Stamps or Medicaid. The changes come as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s tightening of the definition of who is or is likely to become a ‘public charge’ which if ruled will give the DHS reason to turn down applications. Whilst the Government’s Final rule states that they will use a range of metrics to consider the suitability of a person’s application, it also indicates that negative or poor credit histories will indicate that “a person’s financial status is weak and that he or she may not be self-sufficient”.
Is the new Credit History rule an “arbitrary” imposition?
Whilst the DHS claim the rule changes are based on the premise that “Self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of hardworking immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States,” – Some critics have labelled the ruling as “misguided and arbitrary”, claiming that credit worthiness should only be used to determine if a person is fit to re-pay a loan or if they might potentially default, but shouldn’t be used to decide their immigration status.
Naturally, prospective immigrants won’t have a U.S. credit history and are therefore not likely to possess a U.S. credit report, however, the DHS say that they won’t penalize applicants who don’t have one but rather ‘might’ look favorably at those who have a report from elsewhere which is ‘characterized’ as good or better – For those who are already legal immigrants and have only lived in the U.S. for a short space of time, so have not yet built an adequate credit history, then the new rule may well have worrying implications for them also.
The New ‘Public Charge’ Rule goes even further
The Trump administration’s new ruling on the determining of a ‘public charge’ may well generate the most confusion and concern amongst the immigrant community; particularly for those who also happen to be recent immigrants with very little credit history or if they are in possession of a ‘poor’ credit report.
For those legal immigrants who are about to apply for a green card or a change in their immigrant status, who are in fact reliant upon public-assistance programs, then they might rightly have some concerns. Whilst Mr. Cuccinelli, acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that the new rule will be effective from mid-October and won’t be applied retroactively, (meaning that previous receipt of government benefits won’t negatively affect an immigrants’ status), the rule will however apply to those who are seeking to change their immigration status.
What to do if the new rules concern you?
To find out more about how your credit history as a legal immigrant or a prospective immigrant may affect your residency status or application to immigrate to the U.S. then contact Fong Ilagan today and speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.
For expert help in reaching any of your business or family immigration goals Call: 713.772.2300 or fill out our contact form. The legal team at Fong Ilagan looks forward to assisting you.