The USCIS Public Charge resources website has been updated, with a focus on reducing fear and confusion among immigrants and building trust in the legal system. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will most likely issue an updated rule in July or August 2022 regarding the ground for inadmissibility of public charge, which will replace the 1999 Interim Field Guidelines currently observed.
The section titled “A Short List of Essential Public Charge Questions and Answers” reviews items such as the suitability of COVID-19-related services for public charge, the final public charge rule of 2019, and situations that are exempt from the public charge ground of ineligibility. It explicitly states that certain health care, including free COVID-19 vaccination and testing, Medicaid and other public health insurance programs, and public health care assistance are not counted. USCIS encourages all people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and seek necessary health care, regardless of immigration status. Additionally, the website clarifies that the “public benefits condition” of the 2019 Public Charges Final Rule, which is no longer in effect, no longer applies. Along with this, the “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” (Form I-944) is no longer required for applications.
Public office as a non-citizen is defined by a person “who has become or is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” and is primarily defined by the receipt of public cash assistance. This does NOT include non-cash services such as Medicaid, Children’s Medicare, nutrition, housing, energy, emergency disaster relief, and education. Services that fall under the category of public cash assistance include Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, and state cash assistance programs/ local.
Exemptions on these grounds include refugees and asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking or criminal activity, those applying for temporary protected status/registration, those applying for recognition as Indians Canadian-born Americans and self-applicants under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Beyond the short list of 10 priority issues, the website also includes more in-depth information on public charge, the 1999 Interim Field Guidelines, pandemic benefits, receiving other benefits for immigrants and deportation. See the USCIS Public Charge webpage for more information.
If you have questions about public resources or any other immigration-related issue, contact us at the ILBSG. We have extensive experience in helping our clients achieve the desired results. Work with us to get the right advice.