How Does the New Public Charge Rule Affect You?

What Is New?

 U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) implemented a new rule, effective February 24, 2020, to decide who will be considered a “Public Charge” (someone that is likely to need financial assistance from the government). The Department of State (DOS) also implemented an interim final rule, effective February 24, 2020, to align DOS’s public charge standards with those of USCIS.

What is the impact of this new rule?

 If you or your employee are seeking to remain or come to the United States either temporarily or permanently and are not in one of the exempt categories below, the rule will apply to you if you file on or after February 24, 2020.  You will need to provide additional information and documents to USCIS as part of your application. This includes information about your health, family, education, income, assets, liabilities, receipt of any public benefits, a credit report and an Affidavit of Support from a financial sponsor.  If you are found to be inadmissible as a Public Charge, you may be able to pay a bond and still adjust, change or extend your status.

Not everyone is subject to the public charge rule. The most common exceptions are the following:

  • Asylees and Refugees
  • Applicants for U or T Nonimmigrant Status
  • VAWA Self-Petitioners
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles
  • Applicants seeking Temporary Protected Status
  • Applicants under the Cuban Adjustment Act
  • U.S. citizens, including naturalized citizens
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (note: if you plan to be abroad for more than 180 days, please talk to your attorney)

However, even clients who are applying for immigrant visas in an employment based immigrant visa category will be subject to these rules.

The following benefits are problems for Public Charge

  • Cash Assistance for Income Maintenance (includes TANF, SSI, and federal, state, and local assistance programs)
  • SNAP or Food Stamps
  • Medicaid (with certain exceptions)
  • Housing Assistance (Public Housing or Section 8 Housing Vouchers and Rental Assistance

You and your family can still receive the following benefits

Any benefits not on the above list are NOT considered as public benefits under the public charge rule, such as:

  • Benefits received by the immigrant’s family members
  • Benefits received by U.S. Armed Forces Service Members
  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Medicaid received by (1) children under 21; (2) during pregnancy or within 60 days of pregnancy; or (3) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Heath Insurance under the Affordable Care Act
  • Social Security and Medicare
  • WIC
  • CHIP
  • Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
  • Pell grants and student loans
  • Worker’s Compensation or Unemployment Benefits
  • Tax-related cash benefits

As described above, because most people will be subject to these new rules when applying to extend their nonimmigrant status or adjust their status to that of lawful permanent residents, you will need to provide more documentation to our office when we prepare your applications.


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