Update on New Public Charge Rule (12.23.22)
On December 23, 2022, USCIS implemented a new final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility along with a policy manual update providing guidance on the new rule. All applications for adjustment of status (Form I-485) filed on or after December 23, 2022, are subject to the new rule and must use the updated Form I-485. USCIS has published a public charge resource page to provide information regarding the new rule and how it will be applied.
The new public charge rule codifies the prior public charge guidance issued by USCIS in 1999, which had been in use for two decades until 2019 when the Trump administration began implementing stricter public charge requirements. In March of 2021, The Biden administration stopped following the Trump administration's public charge guidance and reverted back to the 1999 policy guidance. The new public charge rule essentially strengthens the 1999 policy guidance by converting it into a formal rule and making it more difficult to overturn.
Under the new rule and the 1999 policy guidance, USCIS will only consider cash benefits received by an immigrant in determining whether they are likely to become a public charge. Only those deemed likely to be primarily dependent on cash benefits for income maintenance or long-term care at government expense could be determined to likely become a public charge, and therefore inadmissible and ineligible for permanent residency. Importantly, this means that it is safe for immigrants and their families to use health, nutrition, housing programs, and many other non-cash benefits without worrying whether doing so will impact their immigration status.
It is also important to remember that many immigrants are exempt from the public charge rule, including asylees, refugees, people with U visas, T visas, VAWA, and Cubans applying through the Cuban Adjustment Act. Additionally, the public charge rule never applies to U.S. citizens, including children of immigrants.
For more information on the applying for permanent residency and the public charge rule, or any other immigration related inquiries, please contact us at email@example.com.