USCIS To Implement Significant Public Charge Changes to Green Card Applications

Summary

Recently, the USCIS made final changes to the public charge policy effective during Trump’s administration. USCIS will no longer apply the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule to applications postmarked or electronically delivered on or after December 23, 2022.

Recently, the USCIS made final changes to the public charge policy effective during Trump’s administration. USCIS will no longer apply the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule to applications postmarked or electronically delivered on or after December 23, 2022. The recent updates were made in an attempt to minimize restrictions for green card applicants, and ultimately increase those eligible for lawful permanent resident status.

Beginning December 23, 2022, green card applicants will submit a new version of Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status). USCIS has also provided guidance for other filers.

“[A]pplicants 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).”

Due to the significant changes, it is encouraged that green card applicants seek guidance from an immigration attorney to address any concerns and to ensure all filings are completed properly.

Public Charge Rule 2022

The public charge update largely reaffirms the initial 1999 field guidance of determination. Non-citizens who are eligible for programs should now be able to enroll in any government assistance programs for which they are eligible without fear of repercussions or negative bearings on their green card application. Under this new final rule, a noncitizen will not automatically be deemed inadmissible on public charge grounds if they received certain non-cash benefits including Medicaid and nutrition assistance including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and other benefits regulated by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). An immigration attorney can provide guidance on which programs you may be eligible for.

What are the Changes to USCIS Form I-485?

In the updates to the I-485 form, the United States government will be collecting more information on applicants than it did in the past. The new information includes:

  1. Debts- In addition to supplying information pertaining to income and assets, applicants will be required to list any debts they hold including mortgages, student loans, car loans and business loans. Any significant debt, namely that over $10,000 from credit cards or subscriptions, should also be reported.
  2. Education and Skills- Applicants must now provide their professional certification, highest level of education, and any relevant job skills.
  3. Use of Public Benefits- Applicants will need to disclose their use of public benefits, including cash, that they obtained from the state or federal government. The USCIS has stated that use of COVID-19 resources including but not limited to the vaccine, medical treatment or preventative services, food assistance, housing programs, and other similar programs will not be counted due to the importance of public health and safety. However, long-term institutional care and other public cash benefits may have a negative bearing on the application.

Consultation with an Immigration Attorney

Changes in immigration policies can be overwhelming and may bring up new concerns for noncitizens. It is important for individuals to have a full understanding of what is expected of them to ensure a seamless green card application process.

With the changes made to the public charge rule, immigrants are encouraged to seek legal guidance on how this update may positively impact their ability to be granted permanent resident status (green card). At Reeves Immigration Law Group, we provide an individualized approach to all our cases to make sure your needs are properly met. Our team of attorneys, many of whom are certified by the State Bar of California as Legal Specialists in Immigration and Nationality Law, will work relentlessly to ensure you are granted access to the public services and benefits you need. Contact one of our attorneys today to learn more about how the changes to the public charge rule may benefit you.

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