DHS resumes the old public charge rules – suspends the use of Form I-944!

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Dev B. Viswanath, Esq. (Photo courtesy of Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.)

Really positive news for both Immigrant Sponsor and intending Immigrants themselves. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the withdrawal of the affidavit of support proposed rule, consistent with DHS’s commitment to reduce barriers within the legal immigration system that placed increased burdens on American families wishing to sponsor individuals immigrating to the U.S.

The proposed rule would have changed the evidentiary requirements for U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents wishing to sponsor an individual immigrating to the U.S. by completing an affidavit of support under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) on behalf of the intending immigrant. BUT, now, the principals will remain the same for evidentiary proof.

Moreover, USCIS stopped applying the Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions on March 9, 2021. USCIS removed content related to the vacated 2019 Public Charge Final Rule from the affected USCIS forms and has posted updated versions of affected forms.

Therefore, USCIS is no longer applying the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule. As a consequence, among other changes, USCIS will apply the public charge inadmissibility statute consistent with 1999 DHS (former INS) Guidance. In other words, USCIS is not considering an applicant’s receipt of Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination.

In addition, USCIS will no longer apply the separate, but related, “public benefits condition” to applications or petitions for extension of nonimmigrant stay and change of nonimmigrant status.

Applicants and petitioners should not provide information or evidence related solely to the Public Charge Final Rule. That means that applicants for adjustment of status should not submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency, or any evidence or documentation required by Form I-944 when they file their Form I-485. Applicants and petitioners for extension of nonimmigrant stay and change of nonimmigrant status should not provide information related to the receipt of public benefits on Form I-129 (Part 6), Form I-129CW (Part 6), Form I-539 (Part 5), and Form I-539A (Part 3).

If an applicant or petitioner already provided information related solely to the Public Charge Final Rule, and USCIS adjudicates the application or petition on or after March 9, 2021, USCIS will not consider any information that relates solely to the Public Charge Final Rule, including, for example, information provided on Form I-944, evidence or documentation submitted with Form I-944, or information on the receipt of public benefits on Form I-129 (Part 6), Form I-129CW (Part 6), Form I-539 (Part 5), and Form I-539A (Part 3). Any other information received will be evaluated consistent with the statute, regulations, and policies in effect at the time of adjudication.

If you received a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) requesting information that is solely required under the Public Charge Final Rule, including but not limited, to Form I-944, and your response is due on or after March 9, 2021, you do not need to provide that information.
However, you do need to respond to the aspects of the RFE or NOID that otherwise pertain to the eligibility for the immigration benefit sought.

If you have any questions on the direction or state of our country on immigration issues, please do reach out to and consult with an experienced Immigration Attorney.

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