Public Charge Changes at USCIS, DOJ, and DOS

From the Congressional Research Service:

Immigration law in the United States has long contained exclusion and removal provisions designed to limit government spending on indigent non-U.S. nationals. Under the INA, an individual may be denied admission into the United States or adjustment to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status if he or she is "likely at any time to become a public charge." An admitted individual may also be subject to removal from the United States based on a separate public charge ground of deportability, but this ground is rarely employed. Certain categories of individuals, such as refugees and asylees, are currently exempted from application of the public charge grounds.

DHS and DOS have primary responsibility for implementing the INA's public charge provisions. USCIS may make a public charge determination when an individual applies to adjust to LPR status. Abroad, DOS consular officers may make a public charge determination when an individual applies for a visa.

Although the INA does not explicitly define the term "public charge," since 1999, agency guidance has defined it to mean a person who is or is likely to become "primarily dependent" on "public cash assistance for income maintenance" or "institutionaliz[ed] for long-term care at government expense."

However, new public charge rules for DHS and DOJ are expected to be published in the Federal Register, according to the Unified Agenda of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In addition, in January 2018, DOS revised the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) to instruct consular officers to consider a wider range of public benefits when determining whether visa applicants who have received or are currently receiving benefits are inadmissible on public charge grounds.

USCIS Efforts to Change Public Charge Rules

Government Announcements

Attorney Resources

Advocacy Resources

Media Resources

DOJ Efforts to Change Public Charge Rules

DOS Efforts to Change Public Charge Rules

Government Announcements

Attorney Resources

Advocacy Resources

Litigation Resources

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19050634.