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09/20/2019

This practice advisory provides an update on public charge for advocates providing naturalization legal assistance. The advisory briefly discusses the legal standard for assessing public charge and then discusses how to advise lawful permanent residents looking to naturalize. It covers issues related to the new rule on public charge that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019, with an effective date of October 15, 2019, interpreting a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) pertaining to inadmissibility. Public charge only applies to certain individuals seeking admission into the United States or applying for adjustment of status. The eligibility requirements for naturalization do not include a public charge test and the legal use of government benefits and programs, including fee waivers, does not disqualify a permanent resident from naturalization. This advisory addresses how inadmissibility can affect lawful permanent residents who are now seeking to naturalize, and how to screen naturalization applicants for red flag issues.