Updated December 2023
December 2023: The Biden Administration public charge regulations went into effect on December 23, 2022. While the regulations largely mirror the policies set forth in the 1999 Field Guidance on public charge, they provide important clarifications about issues such as which immigrants are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and under which circumstances the receipt of public benefits will or will not be considered in a public charge determination. The Department of State (DOS) has finalized regulations that apply a similar policy to applications that are processed abroad. USCIS has provided resources and has updated Form 1-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to include public charge questions. Additional proposed updates to the I-485 are pending.
For additional context see “Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know.”
On March 9, 2021, a final order vacating USCIS’ 2019 public charge rules went into effect. The federal government informed the U.S. Supreme Court that it would no longer defend the public charge rule issued under the Trump administration. On March 15, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule that removed the 2019 public charge regulations from the Federal Register, discontinued the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, and other forms used to implement the 2019 rule and called for the revision of the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and forms related to affidavits of support. These changes, which implemented USCIS’s reinstatement of the 1999 field guidance, went into effect on March 9, 2021.
The Department of State’s (DOS) public charge regulations and related policies continue to be enjoined (placed on hold) by a federal judge in Make the Road New York v. Blinken. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) instructions on public charge currently govern immigration applications that are processed abroad. DOS indicated that it plans to issue new proposed rules, in light of public comments received (in response to changed circumstances), and the pending USCIS rule.
Please stay tuned for updates on any changes or developments. For more resources, visit PIFcoalition.org.
By Gabrielle Lessard
MATERIALS BY NILC & THE PROTECTING IMMIGRANT FAMILIES CAMPAIGN
This fact sheet includes information on the public charge ground of inadmissibility under the 1999 Field Guidance, as well as any changes expected when the final USCIS public charge rule becomes effective (December 23, 2022). It addresses questions including the definition of public charge, as well as which public benefits are considered in a public charge test, and which immigrants are exempt from a public charge test.
[ Read more – PDF ]
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 KeepYourbenefits.org (English, Spanish, and Chinese)
- You can also access California-specific information by text at 650-376-8006
- Text “benefits” for English
- Text “libre” for Spanish
- Text “福利” for Chinese
- Text “lợiích” for Vietnamese