Public Charge

Public Charge


MARCH 3, 2020 — Public charge regulations published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. State Department went into effect on February 24, 2020. The two agencies’ regulations essentially mirror each other, applying many of the same definitions and standards.

Applications for visas and lawful permanent resident (LPR) status processed at U.S. embassies and consular offices outside the U.S. will be adjudicated under the new State Department regulations as of February 24, including pending applications that were submitted before February 24. Applicants who are not exempt from a public charge assessment will be required to submit a new Form DS-5540 (PDF), Public Charge Questionnaire.

Applications for admission and LPR status that are processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. will be adjudicated under the new DHS regulations if they are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020. Applicants who are not exempt from a public charge assessment will be required to submit a new Form I-944.

The new DHS public charge regulations were originally scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019, but were delayed by preliminary injunctions issued by several federal courts that blocked the regulations from going into effect. On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order (PDF) that “stayed” the last nationwide preliminary injunctions remaining in effect, thus clearing the way for DHS to implement its new rule. The Court subsequently stayed the last preliminary injunction that remained in effect, a statewide injunction in Illinois. The Court’s decisions were limited to a determination that preliminary injunctions issued by the lower courts should be stayed while the litigation challenging the regulations proceeds in lower courts. The Court’s opinions do not address the merits of the underlying cases.

NOTE: The regulations’ original effective date of October 15, 2019, still appears in some USCIS materials, including the instructions for Form I-944. USCIS has advised applicants and service providers to treat that date as February 24, 2020.

As the legal fight continues, it is important for families (PDF) and service providers to educate themselves about the DHS public charge regulations, including the many immigrants who are not subject to these new rules or whose use of benefits will not be considered. We will be updating this website in the coming days. For the latest information, visit ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org.

MATERIALS BY NILC & THE PROTECTING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES CAMPAIGN


Public Charge Update: What Advocates Need to Know Now

Public charge regulations published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. State Department went into effect on February 24, 2020. Applications for visas and lawful permanent resident (LPR) status processed at U.S. embassies and consular offices outside the U.S. will be adjudicated under the new State Department regulations as of that date, including pending applications that were previously submitted. Applications for admission and LPR status that are processed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S. will be adjudicated under the new DHS regulations if they are postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020. The two agencies’ regulations essentially mirror each other, applying virtually identical definitions and standards. Litigation challenging both sets of regulations continues, and they may again be halted by the courts.


Changes to Public Charge: Analysis and Frequently Asked Questions

Two federal agencies’ regulations on the public charge grounds of inadmissibility went into effect on February 24, 2020. U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations will apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processing in the U.S. of applications for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status submitted electronically or postmarked on or after February 24. State Department regulations apply immediately to applications for visas and lawful permanent resident (LPR) status processed at U.S. consulates outside of the country.

Not every immigrant is subject to the public charge test. Refugees, asylees, and many other categories of humanitarian immigrants are exempt.


Screening Tool

This screening tool, created by our partners at PIF California, was developed by benefits experts and immigration lawyers to help immigrant communities understand if there is a public charge test for their immigration plans or status.

  • Go to KeepYourBenefitsCA.org (English)
  • Go to TusBeneficiosPublicos.org (Spanish).
  • You can also access by text at 650-376-8006.
    • Text “benefits” for English
    • Text “libre” for Spanish
    • Text “福利” for Chinese
    • Text “lợiích” for Vietnamese