Note: On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new public charge rule, governing public charge inadmissibility determinations by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). The new rule is set to take effect on October 15, 2019. Applications already pending with USCIS before October 15, 2019 will be adjudicated under prior public charge guidance. Lawsuits have been filed to challenge this new public charge rule, so implementation of the new rule may be delayed beyond October 15, 2019.
Thus, some of the content of this manual no longer reflects the current state of public charge in its entirety. However, this manual is still useful for understanding how USCIS assesses public charge for cases postmarked before October 15, 2019—where the old rule will continue to apply—and for understanding how State Department consular officers assess public charge, which is not changed by this new rule. The ILRC will continue to post updates on the state of public charge law and policy at https://www.ilrc.org/public-charge.
We are pleased to announce the release of the first edition of Public Charge and Immigration Law. This new resource will help individuals better understand the current state of public charge and how it applies to immigrant families.
“Public charge” is a ground of inadmissibility that could bar an individual’s admission to the United States on a visa or adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident if the government determines the individual is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.
While public charge has been a part of our immigration laws for more than a hundred years, the future of public charge is uncertain. Existing standards to determine the likelihood of becoming a public charge have been in place for almost twenty years, but an October 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signaled that changes may be on the horizon. Those who apply for immigrant visas at U.S. consulates abroad have already started to see changes in how public charge is evaluated.
- Provides a comprehensive overview of the public charge ground of inadmissibility, who is subject to it, and the legal standard to assess public charge.
- Includes the current affidavit of support requirement processes and sample materials.
- Discusses the Foreign Affairs Manual guidance on public charge inadmissibility consular processing context and special considerations involving visa refusals and provisional waiver revocations.
- Presents a detailed explanation of considerations for lawful permanent residents and naturalization applicants.
- Designed for those who serve immigrant communities that qualify for public benefits and services.
Public Charge as a Ground of Deportability