Biden Administration Reinstates Trump’s Public Charge Rule

The Biden administration is planning to reinstate the Public Charge rule that was initiated by Ex-president Trump. But this time it’ll have a small variation in it. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now intends to release the same rule for grounds of inadmissibility and consider the foreign national’s receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or any other cash assistance at the state or local level to be considered inadmissible into the United States as permanent resident.

What Is The Public Charge Rule?

Under the Public Charge rule, if a foreign national is likely to become a public charge, they will be ineligible for legal permanent residency. The public charge rule applies to individuals who may become primarily dependent on government assistance including receipt of cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term institutionalization paid for by the government.

With the new amended rule, USCIS will still consider a green card application even if the applicant receives Medicaid, public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

BACKGROUND OF THE INITIAL PUBLIC CHARGE RULE

In 2019, ex-president Trump chose to deny green cards to immigrants if they had relied upon social welfare programs such as cash assistance from the State, Medicaid, public housing or food stamps. This made the immigrant a Public Charge. After a year-long battle in the courts, a district judge in Illinois in November 2020 said it could not be implemented nationwide as it was at odds with the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The original public charge inadmissibility statute states that a noncitizen is inadmissible into the US if he is likely, at any time to become a public charge. 

THE NEW PUBLIC CHARGE RULE

Under the new proposed policy, the government would consider the foreign national’s receipt of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or any other cash assistance at the state or local level. The policy would also consider other factors like reliance on long-term institutionalization.

The amendment that was made by the Biden administration says that USCIS will not consider an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.

WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT?

Now that DHS intends to reinstate the public charge rule, they will publish it in the Federal Register. The public can comment on it for 60 days. The agency will then issue a final rule. As of now, there is currently no set date for the publication of the final policy.

WILL YOUR GREEN CARD APPLICATION BE REJECTED ON THE GROUNDS OF PUBLUC CHARGE INADMISSIBILITY?

Green card applicants need not worry about the status of their application. Any requests and responses made after March 9, 2021 would be considered consistent with the statute, regulations, and policies in effect at the time of adjudication.

Going forward, USCIS will not consider the information that relates solely to the Public Charge Final Rule, including information collected through Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency or information related to the receipt of public benefits on Form I-129 (Part 6), Form I-129CW (Part 6), Form I-539 (Part 5), and Form I-539A (Part 3).

Any response to an RFE response that is due on or after March 9, 2021need not be addressed.

Important to Note

You do need to respond to the aspects of the RFE or NOID that otherwise pertain to the eligibility for the immigration benefit sought. If USCIS requires additional information or evidence to make a public charge inadmissibility determination under the statute and consistent with the 1999 Interim Field Guidance, USCIS will issue another RFE or NOID.

The above information is for informational purposes only. You are advised to seek legal assistance from an immigration lawyer before making any change to your green card or immigration petition.