On March 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will no longer defend the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule, stating that further defense of the rule “is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources. Consistent with that decision, the Department of Justice will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 Rule.”
In August 2019 under the Trump Administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a rule requiring inquiry into whether immigrants in certain nonimmigrant classifications may have received public benefits that would render them inadmissible to the United States on “public charge” grounds. Applicants for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas might be found inadmissible to the United States on “public charge” grounds if it was determined that they were likely to become a public charge in the future.
Before the new rule was implemented, various Federal Courts enjoined the rule, either within their respective jurisdictions or nationally, such that the Trump Administration was initially prohibited from applying the rule. In January 2020, the United States Supreme Court stayed the various preliminary injunctions, paving the way for the Administration to proceed with implementation of the new rules governing inadmissibility on “public charge” grounds. This enabled the Trump Administration to fully implement the rule while waiting for the lower court to decide the pending case on the merits, and then while the Administration pursued an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court following the lower court’s decision on the merits.
Upon implementation of the rule, USCIS, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and the Department of State began considering a broader range of factors and evidence when adjudicating petitions or applications for immigration benefits. These included whether the beneficiary had 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
Now that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule is no longer in effect, DHS announced that the Department will resume following the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision. This means that a Form I-944 is not required and USCIS will no longer consider an applicant’s receipt of most Medicaid benefits, public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for purposes of the public charge inadmissibility determination.
USCIS further announced on March 10 that beginning March 9, 2021, applicants and petitioners are no longer required to provide information related to the receipt of public benefits as part of an application to adjust status for permanent residence (green card) or a change or extension of nonimmigrant status. As a result, green card applicants will no longer be required to complete the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, or provide any of the supporting evidence previously required, such as a credit report and other documentation of financial means. Nonimmigrants applying for an extension or change of status will also no longer be required to provide information related to the receipt of public benefits.
Foster will continue to monitor developments in connection with the new administration’s immigration policies and will make future updates available on our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.