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The Public Charge Rule


The “Public Charge Rule” has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s caused a lot of concern for intending immigrants and their loved ones. While the Public Charge Rule is not new—it’s found in the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “INA”)—the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the United States Department of State (“DOS”) have recently implemented new rules and procedures intended to help them enforce this rule.

In September 2018, DHS issued an unofficial draft of its new proposed rule regarding enforcement of the Public Charge Rule, followed by its formal proposed rule in October 2018 and the final rule on August 14, 2019. Essentially, the new rule bars any individual who has received an aggregate of twelve (12) months or more of public benefits from adjusting his status to that of lawful permanent resident (for example, if an individual receives SNAP benefits and Medicaid benefits in one month, that would count as two months of benefits for the purposes of this rule).

DOS soon followed suit in October 2019, issuing its own corresponding version of the new Public Charge Rule (which applies to individuals who are applying for immigration visas at embassies and consulates outside of the United States).

In addition, the President issued a Presidential Proclamation on October 4, 2019, which in essence decreed that most immigrants would need to have health insurance coverage in order to receive their lawful permanent residency in the United States.

These policies were tied up in various court cases for well over a year. On February 24, 2020, they finally went into effect.

New Requirements:

The following evidence is now required for most individuals applying for lawful permanent residency:

  • IRS tax transcripts;
  • Documentation of assets, if the individual does not meet the income threshold (generally 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines);
  • Documentation of debts;
  • Credit report;
  • Proof of health insurance;
  • Evidence regarding any public benefits ever received;
  • Evidence of education;
  • Evidence of occupational or trade skills;
  • Information regarding USCIS fee waivers granted; and
  • Information regarding any bankruptcies.

If you or your loved one is applying for lawful permanent residency in the United States and needs guidance on the Public Charge Rule or any other aspect of the process, please contact the attorneys at Tanner Law Offices for a consultation at 717-836-0471