The New Public Charge Rule

Are you applying for a visa or lawful permanent residence? A new policy may affect the result of your case.

The concept of a public charge has existed in immigration law for many years, but the new rule gives adjudicating officers much greater authority to deny applications. Although the public charge rule primarily affects family-based green card petitions, an adjudicating officer could deny entry or any other type of visa based on public charge grounds of inadmissibility.

Who Could Be Considered a Public Charge?

You may be denied a visa, a green card, or admission into the U.S. if the government believes you are (or will, at any point, become) a public charge, meaning a person who is dependent on government benefits.

In recent decades, a person’s use of public benefits was not a barrier to obtaining a visa or permanent residence. Now, however, you can be deemed a public charge if you receive one or more qualifying public benefits for more than 12 total months in any 3-year period. Under this rule, one month of two different benefits counts as two total months.

Additionally, the adjudicating officer may consider the following factors:

  • Financial circumstances (e.g. assets, income, liabilities)
  • Employment
  • Education and skills
  • Physical health and age
  • Dependents and other family members
  • Prospective status/length of stay in the U.S.

For a full list of benefits that may jeopardize your eligibility, visit USCIS’s Public Charge Fact Sheet. DHS and USCIS will not consider these benefits if they were applied for or received before February 24th.

Who Is Exempt from the Public Charge Rule?

Fortunately, some applicants are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, including:

  • U or T visa holders
  • Asylees/refugees
  • Self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act

Additionally, lawful permanent residents applying for citizenship will not be assessed according to the public charge rule.

What to Submit for Your Public Charge Assessment

If your application is being processed through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, the adjudicating officer can apply the new public charge rule to your case, even if you submitted your application before the rule took effect on February 24th.

Unless you are exempt from the assessment, you will need to submit:

  • Form DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire if you are applying outside of the U.S.; OR
  • Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency if you are applying from within the U.S.

If, on the other hand, USCIS is processing your application in the U.S., the public charge rule will only apply if your application was postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24th.

Let Our Team Address Your Concerns

Backed by years of experience and rigorous training, our attorney at The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC is personally and professionally dedicated to helping you overcome all barriers to your immigration goals. The immigration system regularly endures new policies and other drastic changes, and we are fully prepared to develop an effective and highly personalized strategy for your case. No matter what type of immigration benefit or status you seek, we have what it takes to help.

For a consultation, call our office at 1 (917) 338-7678 or contact us online today.