U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announces it will no longer enforce the Public Charge Rule
On March 9, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed several pending appeals over the “Public Charge Rule” following the Biden administration’s announcement that it would not defend the Trump-era regulation, issued in 2019, which dramatically increased scrutiny of assessment of public charge inadmissibility. In response, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on March 9, 2021, that applicants and petitioners were no longer required to provide information of public benefits and financial standing required solely by the Public Charge Rule for the benefit of a “totality of the circumstances” test assessing whether prospective immigrants were likely “at any time” to be a public charge.
Applicants for adjustment of status are therefore no longer required to provide Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, or any evidence or documentation required on that form with their Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status. This includes evidence of household assets and liabilities and applicants’ credit report, health insurance, education documentation, professional licenses and formal English education as well as information regarding receipt of public benefits. Similarly, applicants and petitioners for extension of nonimmigrant stay and change of nonimmigrant status are no longer required to provide information related to the receipt of public benefits. USCIS will also cease applying the Public Charge Rule to pending applications for adjustment of status and applications/petitions for extension of nonimmigrant stay and change of nonimmigrant status adjudicated on or after March 9, 2021. In the case of pending Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) due on or after March 9, 2021, USCIS will no longer require information and documentation relating to the Public Charge Rule. However, the aspects of the RFE or NOID that otherwise pertain to eligibility for the immigration benefit sought must still be addressed.
Following abandonment of the Public Charge Rule, USCIS has reverted to solely applying the 1999 Interim Field Guidance to applicants for adjustment of status, which provides a less restrictive definition of a “public charge” as someone primarily dependent on the government for public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. USCIS is therefore no longer considering an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.
This article was written by Chris Costa.