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New USCIS Forms Address Public Charge and Public Benefits Questions

7 Feb

In August, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a rule requiring inquiry into whether applicants for immigrant visas (“green card”) and applicants for a change or extension of nonimmigrant (temporary) status may have received public benefits that would render them inadmissible to the United States on “public charge” grounds.  That rule will become effective February 24, 2020.  Because existing USCIS forms do not ask applicants about prior receipt of public benefits, USCIS revised the forms used for certain petitions and applications.

When filing a petition seeking an extension or change of nonimmigrant status, petitioners must complete a new part 6 of Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.  Part 6 requires information regarding the beneficiary’s receipt of public benefits. Specifically, the petitioner must answer whether the beneficiary has received any of the following benefits:

  • Any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • General Assistance (GA)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Section 8 Housing under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937
  • Federally-Funded Medicaid

If the beneficiary has received any such benefits, additional documentation must be provided with the petition filing.  Further, while certain exemptions and exceptions may apply, if the beneficiary of the petition has received such benefits since acquiring the status he or she is seeking to extend or change, and if such assistance was received for a cumulative total of 12 months in a three-year period, the beneficiary can be deemed ineligible for the extension or change of status.

Additionally, applicants for Adjustment of Status to U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card” applicants) must file a new form when filing their applications for permanent residency.  The new applications require a substantial amount of additional information and documentation.

Petitions and applications that cannot be postmarked on or before February 23rd will require reproduction on the new forms with the additional information.  Accordingly, whenever possible Foster is working with employers to file petitions before the new forms are required.

If a petition must be filed on the new forms requiring the additional information, Foster will assist clients in requesting and obtaining the necessary information from employees to enable the filing of petitions seeking an extension or change of nonimmigrant status.

For more information, or if you have questions, your Foster attorney will be happy to assist you.  As always, Foster will stay abreast of immigration policy changes and new form publications and will provide future updates via our firm’s website at