USCIS No Longer Applying 2019 Public Charge Rule

Page updated on Mar 12, 2021 at 10:29 AM

USCIS No Longer Applying 2019 Public Charge Rule


Public Charge RuleMarch 12, 2021--The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is no longer applying the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule, which was introduced under former President Donald Trump’s administration and expanded the range of benefits and other factors immigration officials could consider under the rule. Instead, USCIS has returned to applying the rule based on the 1999 public charge interim field guidance, which was in place before the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule.

This means that receiving Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), or federally-subsidized housing no longer impacts applications for lawful permanent resident (green card) status. In addition, factors such as an immigrant’s medical history, age, income and assets, education level, family size and English proficiency are no longer considered. 

The Public Charge Rule is the standard by which USCIS determines whether an individual is likely to become a public charge, or primarily dependent on the government for support.  The rule is used when an individual applies for a visa, green card or a change in status (i.e., someone with a nonimmigrant visa seeking to extend their stay or change their status to a different nonimmigrant status). 

The public charge rule does not affect legal permanent residents (green card holders), except for those who leave the United States for 180 days or more. Others exempt include refugees; asylees; survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders); VAWA self-petitioners; special immigrant juveniles; and certain people paroled into the U.S. Active duty servicemembers, including those in the Ready Reserve of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their spouses and children, are also exempt. 

Immigrants in one of the above statuses can receive public benefits and resources and it will not affect their status. The rule also does not affect applications for U.S. Citizenship or green card renewal.

On March 9, 2021, court rulings vacating the Public Charge Final Rule went into effect. The USCIS immediately stopped applying the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule to all pending applications and petitions that would have been subject to the rule.

Decisions under the 1999 public charge interim field guidance only consider income-maintenance benefits, including SSI, TANF, and state/local cash assistance programs, as well as institutionalization for long-term care funded by the federal government.

Residents receiving benefits who have questions regarding how the Public Charge rule may impact them can call 703.746.5700 or text 703.346.5990.