Immigration Public Charge Bond

May 15, 2019

Action Immigration

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that in January 2015, there were 12 million illegal aliens residing in the US. That population grew, on average, by 70,000 each year. 

While some are able to take care of themselves and their families, others are not. Immigration laws contain exclusion and removal provisions for those who are considered to be a public charge. 

If someone you know has been arrested by ICE based on public charge immigration laws, you need to know what to do. Keep reading to learn everything about the immigration public charge bond. 

What a Public Charge Is

What is a public charge? It's been a part of the US immigration law for over 100 years as a ground of deportation and inadmissibility. 

Those who are primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, such as public cash, or are receiving long-term care at the expense of the government, are considered to be public charges. However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make someone a public charge. 

If you're an alien applying for an immigrant visa, admission at a port of entry, or to adjust your status to LPR (lawful permanent resident), you are subject to a determination of inadmissibility based on public charge immigration laws. 

Benefits Subject to Public Charge

Benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance from the Temporary Assitance for Needy Families (TANF), and any cash assistance programs on the state or local level can make a noncitizen inadmissible as a public charge. 

However, each determination is made on a case-by-case basis. Typically a USCIS official (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) makes that determination. 

Benefits Not Subject to Public Charge

Not all government benefits are considered part of immigration public charge, such as:

  • Medicaid and other health insurance and health services
  • Nutrition programs
  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Child care services
  • Emergency disaster relief
  • Foster care and adoption assistance
  • Job training programs
  • Educational assistance

Also, any earned cash payments such as Title II Social Security, veteran's benefits, government pensions, and unemployment compensation are also not subject to the public charge law. 

Those Who Are Exempt

Certain categories of aliens are not subject to the public charge determination. They are:

  • Those applying for refugee or asylum status
  • Amerasians seeking admission via the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988
  • Cuban and Haitian entrances according to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
  • Nicaraguans and Central Americans adjusting status in the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997
  • Victims of certain crime assisting law enforcement

How to Pay a US Immigration Bond

The INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) allows admission to aliens who are public charges if they post a "suitable and proper" bond and are otherwise admissible. You can also request an immigration bond hearing to determine eligibility.  

Paying the Bond

A legal US resident can schedule an appointment with an immigration bonds office to pay the bond. Call the office and let them know you'd like to schedule an appointment to pay the bond

Bring your original social security card and a valid photo ID. Once it's paid, the ICE officer notifies the detention facility to release the alien. This should take about an hour. 

Your Next Steps

Once you've paid the public charge bond and your loved one is released, contact an immigration attorney. They can help ensure that appearing in immigration court goes well.

To help you understand what happens in immigration court, click here

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