Immigration Law

USCIS Public Charge Final Rule (Aug. 14, 2019)

Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 157 / Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"This final rule amends DHS regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien applying for admission or adjustment of status is inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA or the Act), because he or she is likely at any time to become a public charge. The final rule includes definitions of certain terms critical to the public charge determination, such as ‘‘public charge’’ and ‘‘public benefit,’’ which are not defined in the statute, and explains the factors DHS will consider in the totality of the circumstances when making a public charge inadmissibility determination. The final rule also addresses USCIS’ authority to issue public charge bonds under section 213 of the Act in the context of applications for adjustment of status. Finally, this rule includes a requirement that aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of status demonstrate that they have not, since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change, received public benefits over the designated threshold, as defined in this rule. This rule does not create any penalty or disincentive for past, current, or future receipt of public benefits by U.S. citizens or aliens whom Congress has exempted from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. This rule does not apply to U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to an alien subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The rule also does not apply to aliens whom Congress exempted from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as asylees, refugees, or other vulnerable populations listed as exempt in this final rule). Nor does this rule apply to aliens for whom DHS has statutory discretion to waive this ground of inadmissibility, if DHS has exercised such discretion. In addition, this includes special provisions for how DHS will consider the receipt of public benefits, as defined in this rule, by certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families; certain international adoptees; and receipt of Medicaid in certain contexts, especially by aliens under the age of 21, pregnant women (and women for up to 60 days after giving birth), and for certain services funded by Medicaid under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or in a school setting. Aliens who might qualify for these exemptions should study the rule carefully to understand how the exemptions work. This final rule also clarifies that DHS will only consider public benefits received directly by the alien for the alien’s own benefit, or where the alien is a listed beneficiary of the public benefit. DHS will not consider public benefits received on behalf of another. DHS also will not attribute receipt of a public benefit by one or more members of the alien’s household to the alien unless the alien is also a listed beneficiary of the public benefit. This final rule supersedes the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds. DATES: This final rule is effective at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on October 15, 2019. DHS will apply this rule only to applications and petitions postmarked (or, if applicable, submitted electronically) on or after the effective date. Applications and petitions already pending with USCIS on the effective date of the rule (i.e., were postmarked before the effective date of the rule and were accepted by USCIS) will not be subject to the rule. "