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Posted on September 10 2022

US Public Charge rule gets its new finalized version on September 9, 2022

By  Editor
Updated July 25 2023

News highlights

  • Here’s an update on the US Public Charge rule.
  • Restoration of the public charge rule that was in place for a long time in the USA is finalized as of September 9, 2022.
  • Joe Biden has reverted terms like the treatment of public health benefits like Medicaid as part of deciding inadmissibility under public charge.
  • Legal immigrants and their family members who are US citizens will now get humane and fair treatment in the US.

Much has changed after Joe Biden took over as the US President. A significant change, rather a reversal, has come about in the US Public Charge rule. The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has lately issued a final rule on how it will administer the Public Charge rule of inadmissibility.

Those who will come under the purview of this new change are non-citizens who will now get more clarity and consistency regarding the implementation of the public rule.

Also read: Do you know how migrants are sponsored for an H1B visa in the USA?

What is the public charge rule?

The formal definition of the public charge rule came into being in May 1999, though it has been part of the US law since 1882. The public charge rule was followed even after the old INS transitioned to the present DHS.

A Public Charge is defined as someone who has primary dependence on the US government for their subsistence. This will be demonstrated when

  • they receive assistance via public money for maintaining their income, or
  • they get institutionalized for care in the long term at the expense of the Government of the USA

Now, a “Public Charge” will be determined based on the following:

  • The age, family status, health, resources, assets & financial status, and education & skills of the non-citizen, as the INA requires
  • The filing of Form I-864 submitted on the behalf of non-citizens when one is needed
  • The non-citizen’s old or current receipt of SSI (Supplemental Security Income), monetary assistance for maintaining their income under TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), cash benefit programs at Tribal, State, local, or territorial levels for maintaining income or institutionalization at government expense for a long term

Also read: H-1B visa approvals goes up in this current Q3 in USA

The background for the current development

The US administration before Biden expanded the Public Charge rule, reducing the number of individuals who have eligibility for Green Card and other US visas. In 2021, the Biden administration withdrew the rule formulated in 2019. Biden introduced his own version of the Public Charge rule and its final version was passed on September 9, 2022.

This final version is similar to the 1999 version of the rule. For you, it means that as an applicant for Green Card or other US visas, you aren’t required to file Form I-944 or DS-5540 when lodging a visa application in the US.

A non-citizen who is deemed to have the propensity to become a ‘public charge,’ could be denied admission or Green Card (i.e, lawful permanent residence in the US).

Before 2019, almost every non-monetary government benefit like Medicaid or nutrition assistance was kept out of consideration. Now that the final rule is published in the Federal Register, such exclusions will be nullified and their effects will be avoided. This will be realized by formally codifying how "Public Charge” is understood in the historical context.

What is great about the new final version of Public Charge?

The final Public Charge rule that will be effective on December 23, 2022, has the following stipulations:

  • DHS won't consider benefits received by family members other than the main US visa applicant, in public charge determinations.
  • DHS won’t consider receipt of certain non-monetary benefits for which non-citizens may have eligibility. These benefits could be:
    • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or other nutrition programs
    • CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)
    • Medicaid (which is not for institutionalization in the long term)
    • Housing benefits
    • Any benefits in connection with testing/immunizations for diseases that are communicable
    • Other special-purpose/supplemental benefits
  • DHS will develop an update for the Policy Manual so that the USCIS officers can apply this regulation in a fair and consistent manner. It will also help to inform the public better about the implementation of the rule.
  • DHS will hold public outreach programs and engagements in order to minimize confusion/chilling effects possible among non-citizens and US citizens.

If you are willing to migrate to USA, talk to Y-Axis, the leading immigration and career consultant in the UAE.

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