Updated October 15, 2019
On October 11, 2019, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York enjoined and restrained the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS from “enforcing, applying, or treating as effective” the DHS Public Charge Final Rule. In addition, the court specifically enjoined the government from implementing the use of any new or updated forms whose submission would be required under the Final Rule, including the Form I-129, Form I-485, Form I-539, Form I-864, Form I-864 EZ, Form I-944, and Form I-945. As of 5:00 pm (ET), USCIS appeared to have removed the new/revised forms from its website.
On October 9th 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the new editions of Forms I-129, I-485, I-539/I-539A, I-864, I-864EZ, and I-944, in advance of the scheduled effective date of the Trump administration’s new public charge rule on October 15th 2019. USCIS will only accept the new editions of these forms if postmarked on or after that date. Please note that October 14 is a federal holiday and the U.S. Postal Service will be closed.
What are immigration advocates doing about this change?
Almost a dozen lawsuits have been filed from New York to California with plaintiffs including states, counties, cities, service providers and immigrants to prevent the “public charge” rule from taking effect on Oct. 15. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed suit on Monday, to ensure a workable transition over to new forms as the administration seeks to implement the public charge rule.
A judge in California held a hearing last week, while a judge in New York held one on Monday, and others are scheduled for this week, with the lawsuits asking for preliminary injunctions to keep the rule from being enforced while challenges to its legality are ongoing. Judges have indicated a willingness to issue rulings before the scheduled start date.
What is the Trump Administration’s New Public Charge Rule?
We have written an article about this new rule and provide some resources here.
Currently, immigrants seeking to become permanent residents (green card holders) must prove they won’t be burdens to the United States, or “public charges,” which in practice has been understood to mean becoming primarily dependent on cash assistance, income maintenance or government support for long-term institutionalization.
The Trump administration’s rule takes that further — considering past and current use of a wide range of assistance like Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers that aren’t currently considered, taking into account factors like the immigrant’s age, employment status and English-language ability to determine whether they could potentially become public burdens at any point in the future and denying them legal residency if officials deem them public charges.
What else should I know about the public charge rule? Who is exempt?
It is important to note that generally, lawful permanent residents who currently possess a green card cannot be denied U.S. citizenship for lawfully receiving any public benefits for which they are eligible. This rule only affects individuals applying for permanent residence and nonimmigrants who are applying for a change or extension of status.
Also, this rule is also not retroactive, which means that any public benefits received before the effective date of October 15, 2019 should not affect the public charge determination. If the immigrant has a child that receives public benefits, this should also not affect the public charge determination.
Finally, this new rule does not apply to vulnerable individuals applying for humanitarian-based immigration programs such as refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others.
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