The Department of State (DOS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are temporarily restrained from enforcing the public charge rule during the COVID-19 national health emergency, based on a ruling by Judge George Daniels of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 29, 2020. This order is effective nationwide, at any time when there is a national health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order states that an injunction is important to limit the harm of the public charge rule, and to ensure uniform access to healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic. The order is applicable nationwide because making it geographically limited would require consular officers abroad to apply different rules to different applicants.
Based on this ruling, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide guidance on how to file forms that include public charge information. In the meantime, USCIS will not reject Form I-485 submissions if the petitioner completes or excludes Form I-944. They will also not reject Forms I-129 or I-539 if Parts 6 or 5 respectively are not completed.
Background on the Public Charge Rule
The public charge rule, administered by the Department of State (DOS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), limits the ability of foreign nationals to enter the US, adjust status, or change or extend their nonimmigrant status if they have used certain public benefits for 12 or more months in the previous 36-month period. The public charge rule first went into effect on February 24, 2020.
For help understanding changing US immigration policy and how it impacts your case, please contact your trusted Chugh, LLP attorney.