New Public Charge Rule

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On October 15, the Department of Homeland Security’s new “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” policy will go into effect. This final rule applies to those seeking (1) admission through consular processing, (2) adjustment to green card status while in the U.S., (3) extension of their nonimmigrant visa stay while in the U.S., and (4) change to a different nonimmigrant category while in the U.S.

This rule is much more expansive than was previously indicated by the Department. Under the nation’s immigration law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, “public charge” rules have only applied to those seeking residency. Now, the current administration seeks to apply these standards more broadly, outside the scope of the INA, and involve all nonimmigrant categories.

In practice, this new rule will require the filing of additional forms for most visa categories, including Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency. Using this document, applicants should prove that they will be “self-sufficient” while in the United States and not become a public charge.

Self-sufficiency is determined based on your assets, income, existing debt liabilities, U.S. credit history, proof of health insurance coverage, education, occupational skills, English language proficiency, and retirement status. For those attending consular interviews, starting November 3, applicants should show proof they will be covered by an approved health insurance plan within 30 days of entry into the U.S. or possess the financial means to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.

To avoid becoming a public charge, applicants should demonstrate they have not received financial assistance or public benefits from the U.S. government. Examples include government cash assistance, Premium Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance (GA), housing assistance, a USCIS fee waiver, or enrollment in Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

While several lawsuits have been filed to block the implementation of this rule, it is unknown whether they will succeed in stopping the clock.

Therefore, Bratter PA is proceeding as if this rule will take effect October 15, and urges our clients to please be mindful of these upcoming changes.