Public Charge Rule Eliminated

On the 10th March, 2021, it was announced by the Biden administration, that they do not intend to defend the 2019 public charge rule in court. This means that the final judgement from the Northern District of Illinois, which vacated the 2019 public charge rule, went into effect. As a result, the 2019 public charge rule is no longer in place and the previously existing public charge inadmissibility provision created in 1999 is now in effect. The same day, USCIS issued a statement that they are no longer applying the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule and will instead apply the public charge inadmissibility provisions in accordance with the 1999 Field Guidance. This means that for any petitions that are adjudicated on or after March 9, 2021, USCIS will not consider any information that was exclusively required by the 2019 Public Charge Rule, including information provided on Form I-944 or supporting documents submitted with I-944, or information on public benefits provided on Forms I-129, I-539 & I-539A.  

In 2019, the controversial ‘Public Charge Rule’ was proposed by the Trump administration, and in February 2020 it took effect.  This rule specifically targeted applications for a visa extension, change of status, and immigration visa applicants by revising the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received when determining whether an applicant was likely to become a public charge. The rule defined the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period. The rule further defined the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.  

 On 2nd February, 2021 President Biden’s made an Executive Order on “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.” It called for an immediate review of agency actions on public charge inadmissibility and deportability. DHS’s review, in consultation with the Departments of Justice and State and the federal benefits-granting agencies, is ongoing.  

 As a result of the above, those applying for a green card from within the United States no longer have to submit Form I-944 and applicants for extensions and changes of status do not need to provide any information in relation to receipt of public benefits on Forms I-129, I-539 & I-539A. 

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