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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

The ABCs of Immigration - Inadmissibility - Public Charge
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes inadmissible any person who is likely to become a public charge. This is one of the oldest parts of US immigration law, having been a concern even before there was immigration law.

There is no regulatory guidance from the INS or the State Department on how to determine whether a person will become a public charge. There are a number of statutory factors that are to be considered, including the applicantís age, health, family status, assets, financial status, education and skills. Also, both the INS and State Department rely on the annual poverty guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Since 1996, most immigrants have been required to submit an affidavit of support as evidence that they will not become a public charge. The affidavit is required of all family based immigrants and of employment based immigrants if there is a familial relationship between the immigrant and the ownership of the petitioning employer. This affidavit of support, Form I-864, creates a legally enforceable obligation on the part of the person petitioning on behalf of an intending immigrant, and if the immigrant collects means tested public benefits during their first five years in the US, the government can sue to recover funds from the petitioner.

While the affidavit of support is required, even a completed and sufficient affidavit is not always enough to address the public charge concern. If the petitioner is only barely able to meet the requirements, the INS can demand an additional sponsor. If the State Department determines that the affidavit is not sufficient, whether because it is technically incomplete or because the consular officer does not find it credible, the applicant is allowed to submit another affidavit.

Next week we will discuss the affidavit of support in detail.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defenderís office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com



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