The New Public Charge Rule to take effect on February 24th

On January 27th, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed (lifted) the injunction issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing the new Public Charge Rule to go into effect nationwide, except for inside the State of Illinois.  There is separate litigation going on in the State of Illinois.  For everyone else, USCIS announced last week that the Public Charge Rule will take effect on February 24, 2020. 

Here are some key points to remember about the Public Charge Rule:
The public charge rule does not apply to legal permanent residents (green card holders) nor to any U.S. citizens. 

This particular public charge rule applies to green card applicants within the United States.  Specifically, beneficiaries of family-based adjustment of status applications (I-485) are targeted by this rule, as well as non-immigrant visa holders who seek to extend or change their status.  A very similar rule applies to family-based immigrants who go through consular processing in their home country.  That rule is still being finalized by the Department of State and has yet to take effect.

Under the public charge rule, USCIS will consider and balance six factors of the applicant: Age, Family Status, Financial Status, Health, Education and Skills, and the Affidavit of Support.  The Affidavit of Support will no longer be considered the most important factor.  Instead, the applicant will have to show that they are unlikely to become a public charge (a person who uses public benefits) due to their age, size of the family, formal education and training, history of employment, and assets/wealth. 

In addition, the receipt of public benefits (listed below) will be considered a negative factor, even if only for one month’s time.  If a person receives public benefits for 12 months or more over a three-year time period, this will be considered a heavily-weighted negative factor. 
The public benefits that count negatively towards the Public Charge Rule are: Cash Assistance (before or after Feb. 24, 2020) Long-term Institutionalized Care (before or after Feb. 24, 2020) SNAP/Food Stamps (on or after Feb. 24, 2020) Section 8 and Section 9 Public Housing Programs (on or after Feb. 24, 2020) Federally-funded Medicaid (does not include state funded plans such as Essential Plan) (on or after Feb. 24, 2020) The public charge rule does not change the eligibility requirements for public benefits programs, and any person should consult with an attorney before making a decision to disenroll from public benefits that they are currently receiving.  Do not forget the importance of the health and well-being of your families. 
The following types of applicants are exempt from the public charge rule: asylum applicants, refugees, U and T visa holders, VAWA applicants, TPS applicants, special immigrant juveniles, and individuals granted relief under the Cuban Adjustment Act, NACARA, and/or HRIFA.  If you are in one of those categories, the public charge rule does not apply to you.

For additional information and resources, visit the links below:

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