Connecticut, US

Jul 31 2020

USCIS Provides Guidance on Public Charge Requirements in the Wake of a Federal Court Injunction

United States

At a glance

  • USCIS will not apply its 2019 public charge regulation to applications for adjustment of status or nonimmigrant changes or extensions of status that are adjudicated on or after July 29, 2020, the date of a federal court order blocking the agency from applying the regulation during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • While the court order is in place, applicants who file adjustment of status application postmarked on or after July 29, 2020 will not be required to submit the Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency and the supplemental detailed personal documentation.  Similarly, nonimmigrant applicants will not be required to answer questions about their receipt of public benefits when seeking a change or extension of status.

The issue

USCIS has confirmed that it will comply with a recent federal district court order that temporarily enjoins the agency from applying the Department of Homeland Security’s 2019 public charge regulation to applicants for adjustment of status or nonimmigrant changes or extensions of status.

On July 29, 2020, Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the enforcement of DHS’s public charge rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

What this means for applicants and petitioners

In compliance with the order, USCIS will not require applicants for adjustment of status to permanent residence to submit Form I-944, the new Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, and accompanying personal documentation when filing a Form I-485 postmarked July 29, 2020 or later.  The agency will not consider information provided on Form I-944 when adjudicating adjustment of status applications on or after July 29, 2020.

Likewise, USCIS will not require applicants for a change or extension of nonimmigrant status on Form I-129 or Form I-539/I-539A to answer questions about their receipt of public benefits if their cases are postmarked July 29, 2020 or later.  The agency will not consider public benefits information provided on those forms when adjudicating nonimmigrant petitions on or after July 29, 2020.

What’s next for the public charge rule and litigation

The USCIS guidance will remain in effect for the duration of the federal court injunction.  The agency is expected to appeal the injunction to a higher court in the near future.

Fragomen is closely monitoring lawsuits challenging the public charge rule and will provide updates as new information becomes available.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work.