Public Charge Rule to Take Effect on February 24

Updated: Feb 6


The "public charge" rule, which is a regulation that broadens USCIS’s authority to determine whether certain foreign nationals will become a public charge of the United States will come into effect on February 24, 2020. The regulation also expands the inquiry to nonimmigrants seeking an extension or change of status is set to take effect.


The new regulation expands the definition to include foreign nationals who use a much broader set of public benefits for more than 12 months in a 36-month period (including non cash benefits). Additionally, parts of the public charge inquiry will also be applied to certain nonimmigrants in the United States, who had not previously been subject to such a review.


Under the new public charge regulation, adjustment of status applicants (green card applicants) will be reviewed under a “totality of circumstances” test that will take into account each applicant’s age, household size, income, financial liabilities, receipt of certain public benefits, health, and education and skills, at a minimum.


Adjustment applicants will now be required to submit a report of their credit history and credit score, as well as detailed information about health insurance coverage, among other variables. The totality test will also include questions about health conditions that may render the applicant unable to care for him/herself. To assess adjustment applicants under this new test, USCIS will require applicants to complete a new Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.


The rule creates a new eligibility criteria for nonimmigrants seeking an extension of stay or change of status. These applicants will be required to disclose whether they have received or are certified to receive certain public benefits on or after February 24, 2020. If the foreign national has received the benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period since obtaining their current nonimmigrant status, this will negatively impact his/her application.



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