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Uscis to Exempt Foreign Nationals from Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Resulting from the Coronavirus

By: Angelita Chavez | March 20, 2020

By: Angelita Chavez-Halaka; Gladys Gervacio; Jacqueline Valle


USCIS formally announced that the public charge ground of inadmissibility will not apply to foreign nationals who seek testing, screening, or treatment of any communicable disease, including the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, USCIS will take into consideration circumstances where a foreign national is prevented from working or attending school due to the coronavirus and must rely on public benefits during the outbreak.


On Feb. 24, 2020, USCIS implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule, which makes a foreign national inadmissible if they are likely to become a public charge at any time in the future (under Section 212(a)(4) of the INA). DHS considers the receipt of certain public benefits as a factor when determining inadmissibility.

What to Expect
  • USCIS encourages anyone with symptoms that resemble COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek medical treatment or preventive services.
  • Obtaining treatment or preventive services, including vaccines, will not negatively affect any foreign national as part of a future public charge analysis, even if such treatment is paid for by one or more of the public benefits listed in the rule.
  • If a foreign national lives and works in a jurisdiction where social distancing or quarantine are in place, or if their employer, school, or university voluntarily shuts down operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the foreign national can provide an explanation and relevant supporting documentation with their application with USCIS to explain how the coronavirus preventative policies affected them.
  • USCIS will consider the totality of the foreign national’s circumstances in its public charge analysis.
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