Department of State Implements Public Charge Rule for Immigrant Visa and Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants Applying at Consular Posts
February 28, 2020
On February 24, 2020, the Department of State (“DOS”) began implementing its Interim Final Rule on Public Charge after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) granted the DOS’ request for emergency approval of the new form DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire. The DOS’ Interim Final Rule on Public Charge, published on October 11, 2019, is similar in scope to the Public Charge Final Rule currently enforced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Going forward, all nonimmigrants and family-based and employment-based immigrant visa applicants (except those exempted by law) applying at consular posts are subject to the DOS Interim Final Rule. All immigrant visa applicants will be required to submit a Form DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire. Per the DOS’ revised Foreign Affairs Manual, nonimmigrant applicants are not required to submit the Form DS-5540 but Consular Officers may request applicants to complete the form where the consular officer believes that additional information is necessary to determine whether the applicant's assets, resources, and financial status are sufficient to address any concerns about eligibility on public charge grounds. Alternatively, consular officers may ask nonimmigrant applicants any or all of the questions from Form DS-5540 necessary to make the public charge determination.