“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement to the Washington Post.
Under the rule, denials for green cards can be issued if an immigrant received government benefits for up to 15 percent of the poverty level - $1,821 for an individual and $3,765 for a family of four, Politico reported.
Critics see the measure as just another attempt to restrict legal immigration and force low-income families to choose between receiving public assistance or staying in the United States.
“This would force families -- including citizen children -- to choose between getting the help they need and remaining in their communities,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The Post reported that 3.7 percent of the 41.5 million immigrants living in the U.S. received cash benefits in 2013 and 22.7 percent received other forms of assistance like Medicaid, housing subsidies or home heating assistance.