A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Monday, February 10, 2020

USCIS to Implement the Public Charge Rule on Applications

Ever since it was first announced late last year, the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule has been the subject of much controversy. Once announced to take effect in October 15, 2019, the rule faced a lot of resistance and could not be implemented due to nationwide federal court injunctions. After the U.S. Supreme Court removed these injunctions, USCIS has scheduled to implement the Public Charge Rule nationwide (except Illinois) on February 24, 2020, with slight changes.

A public charge is someone that relies on government assistance programs. With the addition of the public charge rule, all aspects of a foreign applicant's background are scrutinized. Some factors are finances, health, education, skills, and age. The foreigner's use of public benefits are also a big factor. As a response to the nationwide injunctions, however, the rule was changed to only take into account public benefits used on or after February 24, 2020. 

Generally, each factor weighs positively in the applicant's favor if it means he/she is more self-sufficient. If the factors paint a picture of someone who will likely need long-term government assistance, the applicant will be denied entry to the United States. 

The coming implementation of this rule will make it harder for foreign nationals to enter the country on many fronts. Green card applicants as well as temporary visa applicants (H-1B, H-4, L, etc.) will find that they have more documentation to prepare and that standards have risen immensely. Illinois applicants, however, are spared from this rule indefinitely. A federal court injunction preventing the enforcement of this rule is still in effect for Illinois. 

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Soon after this final rule announcement, USCIS rolled out new and updated forms reflecting the rule, to be used starting February 24, 2020. The new forms are:
  • Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency
  • Form I-945, Public Charge Bond
  • Form I-356, Request for Cancellation of Public Charge Bond
The updated forms are as follows:
  • Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker
  • Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i)
  • Form I-485 Supplement J, Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer or Request for Job Portability Under INA Section 204(j)
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA
  • Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member
  • Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act
  • Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver
  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility
  • Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
  • Form I-539 online
Copies of the new forms are available on each form's page on the USCIS website. 

USCIS will accept old editions of the forms whose courier receipts have dates before February 24, 2020. For receipts from Feb. 24, 2020 onward, USCIS will reject old editions of the form. Again, Illinois is an exception and will continue to use current forms.

February 24, 2020 is an important date for those applying to enter the country. It marks the use of new forms, enforcement of the public charge rule, and the date from which public benefits will be counted. It is advised that applicants look closely at the rules dictating how they will be judged. Furthermore, Illinois applicants should stay updated on news of the injunction and USCIS announcements on the public charge rule.

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