Update on Public Charge Final Rule Effective Feb. 24

Following the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announcement last week that the Public Charge final rule will go into effect on February 24, 2020 (except in Illinois), the USCIS released revised forms and updated its Policy Manual Guidance based on the public charge ground of inadmissibility. Under the new requirements, all green card applicants (family-based and employment-based adjustment of status applications) will need to demonstrate that they are not likely to become primarily dependent on public assistance at any time in the future by filing a Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency with supporting evidence, including federal income tax returns, credit report, proof of health insurance and proof of English proficiency. The USCIS will apply a multi-factor test focusing on an applicant’s age, health, family status, financial status, income and assets, and education and skills, to determine whether the applicant is inadmissible as a public charge. In addition, nonimmigrants who are seeking a change of status or extension of stay will be required to demonstrate that they have not received public benefits since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change. Except for Illinois, the final rule will apply only to applications or petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020.

Illinois Exemption to Public Charge Final Rule

As of February 6, 2020, the USCIS remains enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from implementing the Public Charge final rule in the State of Illinois. Per the USCIS announcement, applicants for adjustment of status who live in Illinois are not subject to the Public Charge final rule. These applicants must continue to submit their applications on the prior edition of the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and will be adjudicated under previous policy, 1999 Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds. Likewise, petitioners and nonimmigrants who are seeking change of status or extension of stay, and who are covered by the Illinois injunction, must use the prior versions of Form I-129 petition and I-539 application. A separate filing address for certain applications and petitions for Illinois is provided on the USCIS website. Please note that the USCIS will reject applications and petitions submitted on incorrect editions of the forms.

Please see our alert for more information on the Public Charge Final Rule. We will be posting an FAQ on the final rule in the coming weeks before the effective date and will reach out to clients who will be affected by the new Public Charge requirements.

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