In the latest public charge rule news, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally announced that the Biden Administration would no longer be applying the Trump-era changes to the rule, which made it difficult for lower-income to obtain lawful permanent U.S. residency (i.e., green card). DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said the Trump-era public charge rule was blocked because it was “not in keeping with our nation’s values” and “penalized those who access health benefits and other government services available to them.”

Public Charge Rule Blocked 2021: Key Points

  • Beginning March 9, 2021, the DHS will no longer implement the 2019 public charge rule. Instead, it will be replaced with the 1999 version.
  • Applicants for adjustments of status are not required to submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, along with the support materials.
  • If you’ve applied for a nonimmigrant change of status or extension of stay, you do not need to respond to any questions regarding receiving public benefits or services.
  • The 1999 policy on public charge does not make admissibility determined on receiving Medicaid, non-cash benefits, or SNAP benefits.
  • The Biden Administration will continue reviewing, along with other agencies, the issue of public charge and other pressing immigration issues.

How Public Charge Rule News Applies to You

In line with that policy change, USCIS has made it clear that immigrants seeking green cards or permanent residency on or after March 9, 2021, do not have to submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, along with the support materials in their application packet when applying from the U.S. What’s more, USCIS has come out and stated that it would stop applying the Trump-era Public Charge Rule to any pending applications or petitions on or after March 9th, so if you already submitted your green card documents with this form, you don’t have to worry about it being considered. If you receive a Request For Evidence based only on the public charge rule, you may not need to respond, but it’s best to consult your immigration attorney.

If you are filing outside of the U.S., then you don’t have to include the Form DS-5440, Public Charge Questionnaire, anymore because another prior injunction already blocked it, and we expect USCIS to eliminate it at some point. It’s important to mention that USCIS will not completely eliminate the public charge rule. The Trump-era version of it will be replaced with the 1999 policy version which only applies to individuals who may be “primarily dependent” on state or federal programs to provide greater than half of their income in cash assistance or institutionalization via long-term care at the government’s expense. Therefore, receiving Medicaid, non-cash benefits, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would not be taken into immigration ruling considerations.

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If you have any questions or believe the Public Charge Rule may affect your case, it's highly advised to speak to one of VisaNation Law Group's immigration professionals. They'll be able to thoroughly evaluate your case based on the latest immigration legislation and provide guidance that's in your best interest.