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DHS’s Public Charge Final Rule Goes Into Effect

As of December 23, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility final rule has been in effect. This final rule provides clarity and consistency for noncitizens on how DHS will administer the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The rule restores the historical understanding of a “public charge” that had been in place for decades before the previous administration began to consider supplemental public health benefits such as Medicaid and nutritional assistance as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination. 

A noncitizen who is deemed likely to become a ‘public charge,’ meaning that they are likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be denied admission or lawful permanent residence (generally known as a green card). When making a public charge inadmissibility determination under this final rule, DHS will consider:

  • An applicant’s “age; health; family status; assets, resources, and financial status; education and skills;” and 
  • A sufficient Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA (when one is required). 

Additionally, the agency will consider any prior or current receipt of: 

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI); 
  • Cash assistance for income maintenance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); 
  • State, Tribal, territorial, or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance”); or 
  • Long-term institutionalization at government expense.

DHS will not consider receipt of noncash benefits (for example, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, public housing, school lunch programs, etc.) other than long-term institutionalization at government expense. 

This final rule applies to applications filed (or electronically submitted, if applicable) on or after December 23, 2022. Several questions on this topic have also been added to Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

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