As of February 24, 2020, USCIS will be implementing tightened restrictions and new guidelines relating to the public charge inadmissibility ground for all applicants. Individuals who are likely at any time to become a public charge are generally individuals who are likely to become primarily dependent on the United States government for subsistence.
What is a public charge, and will USCIS consider me to be one?
Since the 1800s, Congress has written and implemented many statutes declaring that individuals who are unable to care for themselves without dependency on the government are inadmissible to the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(4) tells us that “any alien who, in the opinion of the consular officer at the time of application for visa, or in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.” The Act also states that when USCIS officers or the Attorney General is considering whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge, they shall at a minimum consider “the alien’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. Since 1996, the Public Charge rule has been in use which provides that aliens generally need to be self sufficient in order to be admitted to the United States.
The new rule, implemented beginning Monday, February 24th, applies to applicants for admission or adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (better known as green card holder) and applicants for extension of a nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status. Congress has exempted certain classes of people for inadmissibility based on public charge, including refugees, asylees, certain U and T nonimmigrant visa applicants, and certain self petitioners under VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act. Under the new rule, public charge is defined as an alien who receives one or more public. Benefits for more than 12 months in total within any 36 month period.
If you are considering applying for the following forms, please note there will be new editions of these forms and contact an immigration attorney for assistance or to answer any questions you may have. The forms are:
The new rule will require applicants to attach a new form, form I-944 to any of the above forms. The I-944 is a Declaration of Self Sufficiency, and it is 18 pages where applicants will fill out information including personal and household assets, resources, financial status, credit scores, bad credit explanations, bankruptcy history, health insurance, premium tax credits Obamacare, and any public benefits in use by the applicant. USCIS stated that he I-944 will roughly take applicants 4.5 hours to fill out, please contact an immigration lawyer for assistance filling out the new form properly and efficiently.
DHS will consider the following public benefits in order to make determinations about whether an applicant is likely to be a public charge:
DHS will not consider the following public benefits when considering public charge:
There are also exemptions and exceptions to the new public charge rule, including exceptions for applicants who have received emergency Medicaid services under the IDEA, school-based services and benefits for individuals under 21, and benefits received by pregnant women. For a more detailed description of all exemptions and exceptions, please speak with an immigration lawyer.