So by now, you may have heard that the public charge rule, I-944, is no longer required. There are a lot of questions in the community, so we’d like to give you some information on what is going on. You may be wondering what major changes you can expect to see, what happens with petitions that have already been filed before this new ruling, and so on. Before we answer those questions, let’s do a little background on the I-944 and what this used to mean for immigration policy.
The public charge rule, originally brought in in 2019, is no longer in place – effective immediately. This is good news. On March 9, 2021, USCIS officially declared they would stop enforcing the public charge rule, visible on their website. There have been a couple litigation challenges in several courts that turned out to be successful. Additionally, with Biden’s Administration halting the opposition to this ruling, we were able to see a turn in our favor. The Supreme Court announced they would no longer be pursuing the case, and as a result, District Courts began doing the same.
So what does this mean exactly?
Great question. It means that USCIS is no longer applying the harsh rule from 2019 that tested education, health, financial status, etc. and which made it quite easy for someone to become subject to public charge. For those who receive government benefits, but are hoping to sponsor family members (for example), this rule will no longer hinder your goals.
What happens now?
Now we will see USCIS going back to the original regulations from 1999. This still requires you to prove that you will not be a burden on the government, but you will no longer have to jump through the bureaucratic hoops you had to with this past rule. You can submit form I-864 and prove that you meet the public guidelines, depending on your household size.
In addition, questions regarding the public charge on other forms, such as sections of the I-539 and I-129 forms, are going to be excluded and will not have to be completed by the applicant / petitioner any longer.
What if I had already filed an application before this rule was overturned?
USCIS has stated they will not be applying the 2019 rule to any applications filed on or after March 9, 2021. You will not have to include form I-944 or any of the supporting documents previously required with this rule.
What if I had already filed an application before this rule was overturned and I’ve received an RFE or NOID since then?
If you received an RFE and the request specifically mentions or pertains to form I-944, you do not have to worry about it or respond. Keep in mind that this is only if the RFE specifically pertains to the I-944. If the RFE contains other information that they would like you to submit, you will still have to do so. If you have documents that are also applicable to other forms, such as the I-539 and I-129, that relate to the public charge, they are no longer required.
Where do we go from here?
You can work with your attorney to figure out if this rule cancellation affects you and what you will need to do if it does. This information is certainly subject to change, but for now, public charge is gone. Rejoice, but stay vigilant in your applications and the forms you are completing.
We hope this blog was helpful to you and at least made you aware of what USCIS is doing in terms of public charge rule changes. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm if you have any questions or concerns about your case. We would be glad to assist you whether or not you are already a client of our firm. Please give us a call at our Pittsburgh office at 412.258.8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free consultation on our site using this link. We look forward to working with you.