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Advice on Public Charge Designations for Musicians in the USA on Visas

Our friends at Tamizdat are offering Pro-Bono advice for musicians, who at the time of lockdown may have been working in the United States of America (USA) under a visa, and are concerned about whether a public charge designation could affect them.

Published: 01 May 2020 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
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The risk to international artists of receiving the public charge designation has increased in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit: Shutterstock

In February the USA’s government implemented new rules expanding the government of the USA’s power to deny visa petitions and applications of certain foreign nationals whom they think are likely to become reliant on public benefits in the USA – this is referred to as a public charge designation.

The risk to international artists of receiving the public charge designation has increased in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as artists who are in the USA for long term engagements that have been cancelled for the foreseeable future may seek out healthcare, unemployment, and other public benefits.

In response to the government of the USA’s expanded public charge rules, TamizdatAVAIL has expanded its pro bono legal assistance program to help international artists who are in the USA and who have questions about whether or not receiving benefits from the USA’s government will impact their ability to extend their visa status or receive a visa or green card in the future.

For these artists, TamizdatAVAIL can provide:

  • Guidance as to what counts against you as a disqualifying benefit for USCIS purposes, and how the calculation works
  • An explanation of DOS’s more subjective approach to the public charge test and how your use of unemployment, health, and other public benefits might play into it
  • Guidance on how to figure out whether your Medicaid is solely state-funded (and therefore not a disqualifying factor under the USCIS test), or federally-funded, in whole or in part
  • Guidance on when you should seek the advice of an immigration attorney.

For more information on the pro-bono legal assistance Tamizdat is able to offer, see their website. You can also email avail@tamizdat.org or call +1 (718) 541-3641

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