On Tuesday, March 9th, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lifted the extra restrictions placed on immigrants under the 2019 Public Charge Rule.
What is a Public Charge?
A “public charge” is anyone who Immigration thinks is unable to support themselves financially in the United States.
The Public Charge rule affects non-US citizens applying for some kind of new status. This includes visa applications, your first application for a green card (or lawful permanent resident (LPR) status), or an extension or change from your current status.
What was the 2019 Public Charge Rule?
The 2019 Public Charge Rule required applicants for immigrant visas and green cards to be evaluated beyond their income and plan for supporting themselves in the United States.
Under the 2019 Public Charge Rule, Immigration officials applied a “totality of the circumstances” test. This allowed officials to weigh many more factors than just the immigrant’s finances. Officials could consider the immigrant’s income along with their education, skills, English proficiency, age, medical history, and more. Immigrants were required to fill out a form to give Immigration all of this information.
Officials also looked at whether applicants had ever received public benefits. This included: cash assistance, like TANF or SSI; long term medical care under Medicaid; any state cash assistance; or other forms of assistance, like food stamps, Section 8 housing assistance, and Medicaid.
What Public Charge Rule is Enforced now?
Now that the 2019 Public Charge rule is no longer enforced, people trying to immigrate only have to submit an affidavit of support. This shows their income and how they plan to support themselves. If they cannot support themselves, someone else can submit an affidavit of support on their behalf. This serves as a guarantee that they will support the intending immigrant if necessary.
Immigrants DO NOT need to submit the immigration form applying a “totality of the circumstances” test. Form I-944 will no longer be used.
Additionally, DHS explained that it will go back to the Clinton-era rules that instruct Immigration officials to only deem an immigrant to be a “public charge” if they receive cash benefits or long-term institutionalized care.
In a statement, DHS confirmed that the use of the following things will not make you a public charge: Medicaid (except for Medicaid for long-term institutionalization), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
If you have any questions about the Public Charge Rule, please talk to an experienced immigration attorney.
Last updated: 3-11-2021
Immigration law is always changing. We will do our best to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, but the latest information might be more readily available at USCIS.gov. These pages were written to help you better understand your legal options, however, none of the information published by Catholic Charities Milwaukee should be considered legal advice. If you plan to open your own immigration case, hire an immigration attorney to consult you personally.