Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) March 5, 2020 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Public Charge rule previously published took effect February 24, 2020, after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an injunction that blocked its implementation across the United States.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on January 27, 2020, allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enforce its Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule. The DHS will apply the final rule nationwide except in Illinois, where a federal court has left an injunction in place barring the policy from taking effect in the state.
The Public Charge rule enables USCIS to deny permanent resident status to immigrants who have a history of using public benefits such as food stamps, housing assistance, Supplemental Security Income benefits or prescription drug subsidies, using a complex weighing of these and other factors. The controversial rule was promulgated in August 2019 and initially scheduled to be implemented in October 2019. It has faced legal challenges and criticism for targeting low-income immigrants and preventing them from obtaining permanent resident status.
“Applying a standard of ‘likely at any time to become a public charge’ as part of a multiple point test to decide whether a foreign national is eligible to receive permanent resident status in the United States now gives USCIS broad discretion in making decisions in this area, which leads to high burdens on applicants and on USCIS, unpredictable outcomes, and likely increased denials,” commented Stewart Rabinowitz of the Dallas and Frisco law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “It adds to already long delays in case adjudications, and it subjects nonimmigrants who seek to change or extend status to a public charge determination. And for what? There is no evidence of a crisis of immigrants seeking public benefits that has not already been addressed by statute and prior regulations regarding public charge dating back to 1999. Unless of course, the crisis is that there are a lot of immigrants. Then, giving USCIS adjudicators another way to say ‘No’ makes perfect sense.”
USCIS will apply the final rule to petitions and applications submitted on or after February 24, 2020. The policy will not apply to public benefits received prior to that date. The agency published new forms and submission guidelines during the week of February 3, 2020. Officials will no longer accept petitions and applications submitted using prior versions of the required forms.
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