USCIS Announces Public Charge Rule Implementation

February 7, 2020

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.

Public assistance written on turning gears

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule on February 24, 2020, except in Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court as of January 30, 2020. Earlier, on January 27, 2020, the Supreme Court stayed the order of a New York federal court granting a nationwide injunction against the implementation of the public charge rule.

Among other things, the final rule requires that those seeking to adjust status to permanent residence or seeking an extension of stay or change of status demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over a designated threshold. The final rule considers a noncitizen a public charge if he or she receives certain public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate in any 36-month period, such that the receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months. USCIS will also consider whether a noncitizen seeking an extension of stay or change of status has received certain public benefits since obtaining the nonimmigrant status he or she seeks to extend or from which he or she seeks to change.

Except for the state of Illinois, USCIS said it will apply the final rule to applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020.   USCIS has published revised forms related to the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including USCIS, will implement on February 24, 2020. Beginning on that date, applicants and petitioners must use new editions of the forms listed in a USCIS announcement.

In addition, except in Illinois, applicants for adjustment of status subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and the final rule must submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.

Certain classes of aliens (such as refugees, asylees, petitioners under the federal Violence Against Women Act, and certain T and U visa applicants) are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and therefore are not subject to the final rule.

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