Public Charge Rule
In February, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (“Final Rule”). What does that mean for you? Under the Final Rule, USCIS will look at factors, approved by Congress, to determine whether an individual is likely at any time to become a public charge. The Final Rule also specifies how DHS determines whether an immigrant is inadmissible to the United States based on the individual’s likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future.
What factors are reviewed?
- Family status;
- Assets, resources, and financial status;
- Education and skills;
- Prospective immigration status; and
- The expected period of admission.
Is anyone exempt from the rule?
Congress has exempted certain classes of immigrants from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. Refugees, asylees, Afghans, and Iraqis with special immigrant visas are exempt from public charge inadmissibility.
What benefits are considered?
- Any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Federal, State, local, or tribal cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called General Assistance in the state context, but which may exist under other names)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps)
- Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation)
- Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act
- Most forms of federally funded Medicaid
How does this impact a status change?
The Final Rule also requires that immigrants seeking an extension or change of status demonstrate that they have not received public benefits. The Final Rule prohibits DHS from considering the receipt of public benefits by applicants for extension of stay and change of status before Oct. 15, 2019, when determining whether the condition of the public benefits applies, and DHS will now treat this prohibition as applying to public benefits received on or after Feb. 24, 2020.
USCIS has recently updated forms, submission instructions, and Policy Manual guidance. If USCIS receives an application or petition for benefits using incorrect editions of the forms, USCIS will inform the applicant or petitioner of the need to submit a new application or petition using the correct forms.
If you or a loved one is impacted by this change, please contact our office for immediate assistance. We can help you better understand the law and explain your options.