Offering U.S. citizenship to those who prove they cannot live without taxpayer assistance

I learned recently that transitioning from Green Card to U.S. citizenship requires paying a $725 fee. However, the fee can be waived if the new American can prove that this would be a hardship to pay, e.g., because the Green Card holder is receiving taxpayer-funded benefits, such as public housing, food stamps, etc. In other words, our government has an official policy of granting citizenship to working-age people who prove that they (a) receive means-tested benefits (“are on welfare”), and (b) can’t scratch up $725.

How does it work in practice? The case I learned about involves a family that won a Green Card via lottery five years ago. After arriving in the U.S., they were entitled to means-tested prices for essentials, i.e., taxpayer-funded housing, taxpayer-funded health care, taxpayer-funded food (SNAP or “food stamps”), etc. On realizing that there was no social stigma to being a divorced woman in the U.S., the wife divorced the husband, explaining that she had never wanted to be married, but had only done it because it was expected in her birth culture. Neither of the parents earned much money so there wasn’t significant divorce litigation. As children don’t yield significant cash compared to public assistance, she and the father were able to agree to a 50/50 schedule. The result for U.S. taxpayers was there were now two households eligible for government-provided housing, health insurance, food stamps, and smartphones. And soon those will be two citizen-led households…

[Note: the typical American newspaper would not describe someone living in a taxpayer funded house, receiving taxpayer-funded health insurance, eating taxpayer-funded food, and calling friends on a taxpayer-funded smartphone to be “on welfare” because the foregoing are all non-cash benefits.]

17 thoughts on “Offering U.S. citizenship to those who prove they cannot live without taxpayer assistance

  1. Philg: You post many things along these lines, but do not explicitly state whether this is good or bad for the country.

    If this is good, then what should be done to bring in more people who are willing to accept free housing, food, healthcare, phones, etc. before other countries grab them all?

    On the other had, if this is not sustainable, and bad for the country, then what other countries have similar systems where Americans may immigrate to and obtain all these free things after things here deteriorate?

    • @Anonymous

      This is a bad thing. We have laws in the books to make sure that immigrants will add value to our country This is why to apply and get a US Green Card, the immigrant is required to complete and submit an Affidavit of Support application [1] showing that someone, relative, friend, etc. will take care of said immigrant, financially, until when the immigrant is a US Citizen via naturalization.

      So, if our government will wave the application fee and will now support the immigrant financially for life, than what’s the point of Affidavit of Support? What’s the point of having laws?


    • Last I checked, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have a points-based system that heavily favors those with in-demand skills and/or significant assets. A number of developed countries (including the US to a degree) will allow you to effectively buy your way to residency/citizenship if your net worth is sufficiently high (some millions of liquid funds).

      A close friend of mine married a Danish man a few years ago and it’s been interesting to watch that play out. He’s a physician so he couldn’t practice here but has been able to find high-paying work that doesn’t require board certification. Getting through US ICE has been a tale of pretty typical bureaucratic stupidity but there was never any serious question that he’d eventually get whatever he wanted.

      Meanwhile, my friend has been trying to get on track for Danish citizenship, and oh what a difference. She thinks she’ll get there, but it could take a decade or more, as the Danes responded to the swelling number of asylum-seekers by first trying to discriminate selectively against middle eastern immigrants, and when that was denounced as intolerably racist, they responded by making it nigh upon impossible for anyone to immigrate. Even blonde-haired tech executives married to Danish physicians. Milton Friedman would chuckle, no doubt.

    • These people were granted green cards via the green card lottery though.

      Which has entirely different requirements for eligibility.

    • All this is negative to the country, Tax payers shouldn’t finance absolutely nothing. I’m an immigrant myself and pay my tax were one of the first lessons I’ve learned. However, we all have relative outside the U.S. therefore money transfer its common among foreigners. The problem is 99% of the individuals send all gross income to the origin country and avoid to pay tax and work under table to benefit of who hire them. I had send money for my relatives as well but never Neglected my responsibilities. Furthermore, to me the government should create an ID that every non citizens can use but there will contain background information, tax information, insurance informations and anything that can harm the government structure. Will be easy to all if when the card passes in anywhere and become green this individual can buy, sale, or invest into a business and promote grown even open a work force opportunity. Money transfer to overseas must be controlled to avoid tax evasions. If I pay my taxes and I live by the rules why mot the others can comply? I can’t agree with any law ignorance, is not acceptable, NO one is above the law.

  2. I certainly hope they don’t receive social security. I had to put my 40 quarter’s in are they. If they do get help it better not be from social security.

    • My Philippine wife of 8 years now receives SS and Medicar since we came to the US 2 years ago she got the SS as soon as we landed here before she started working and got Medicare this year at 65.

    • It takes a minimum of 40 work credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits.
      Current spouses and ex-spouses (if you were married for over 10 years and did not remarry prior to age 60) both have eligibility for the spousal benefit.
      You are automatically entitled to receive either a benefit based on your own earnings or a spousal benefit based on your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s earnings.

  3. our country is so Hillbilly Backwatered what other stupid country would purposely Have any stupid kind of Lottery to Advertise hey come on in we are the American States we are the stupidest country in the world not only do we not give a Dam about our own citizens and veterans who were wounded in any and all our wars but the people on skid row in California tents on the streets for as far as the eye can see we don’t give a Dam about them either we are the stupidest country the Great USA we only take care of foreigners not our own citizens and veterans Born here since recognising that Anchor Babys are not real Bonafied citizens they don’t count either but our country needs to rake care of our own and not Engage in things like taking care of poor people from other countries if we have to take care of them then what kind of access of Employment or Taxes or -Ei- ant other type Benefits would our country get from them none except sitting on there asses collecting WELFARE and HEALTHCARE we need to stop this kind of sinceless things being imposed upon our unsuspecting public so please contact your dumb congressman and your goofy ass Senator’s and ask them if they support rhis kind of senseless spending on our tax paying people if they do then we need to take action against them and vote them out of office my name is TYRONE and guess what surprise I’m a Black American born and raised inthe great state of long ago didnt see that coming did ya so there are things that are not expected ya see!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      The Trump administration is proposing a massive overhaul of federal regulations that would dramatically change the way the U.S. decides which immigrants are deemed a “public charge.”

      “This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers,”

    • This is such a fantastic idea: letting Honduras and El Salvador run a diversity visa lottery that allows the winners enter the US (for a modest fee)

  4. You are so dam right Tyrone! I’m an Immigrant, first generation (not an illegal one) and one thing that I could never get, why people in this country are so dumb?
    People with no education at all, come here abuse the system and the fight for what they call rights, onlybin USA!!

    • Some people are dumb, and some afraid that comment like above may get them marked as a racist.

  5. The Diversity program is designed in such a way that, in a few years, it will finally end. Those who come and benefit from taxpayers support will also end. However, many of those who come on that program work and contribute to the economy of this country. Some start a business that eventually creates employment for several individuals. Others who are well educated work in places where the remuneration is not at par with their education. All countries do need people who can do low wage demanding jobs and it must be seen that no one is not useful to the growth of the economy.

  6. @Colin – My spouse is trained as a specialist doctor abroad. We are just married and she will have to go thru the whole board certification / residency racket to practice here. Can you let me know what this high paying non board certified job is about?

    • Try large pharmaceutical companies and health care insurers. Both employ many MDs (and nurses) to monitor clinical operations.

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