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USCIS issues final rule on public charge inadmissibility grounds

  1. Date Announced

    Aug. 14, 2019

    USCIS issues final rule, signed by Acting Secretary McAleenan, on public charge inadmissibility grounds, which governs admission and adjustment of status. The rule requires consideration of certain previously excluded programs including Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy, and several housing programs. Pending applications and petitions are not subject to the new rule.

    [ID #766]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    Oct. 15, 2019
  3. Subsequent Action

    October 2, 2019

    Technical corrections to final rule

    DHS publishes final rule correction on 10/2/19 addressing "technical and typographical errors."
  4. Subsequent Action

    January 30, 2020

    Following the Supreme Court stay of the nationwide preliminary injunction issued by the S.D.N.Y., USCIS announces it will implement the Public Charge rule beginning February 24, 2020. The rule will be implemented everywhere except for in Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined.

    USCIS announces public charge rule implementation
  5. Subsequent Action

    February 5, 2020

    USCIS issues alert describing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual concerning the Public Charge rule. Among other things, the guidance defines "public charge," lists factors officers consider in public charge determinations, and lists categories of applicants eligible for waivers.

    USCIS Policy Alert (PA-202-04) Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility
  6. Subsequent Action

    February 24, 2020

    On February 24, 2020 DHS implements the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule nationwide, including in Illinois.

    DHS Implements Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule
  7. Subsequent Action

    September 22, 2020

    USCIS Policy Manual section on public charge details adjudication instructions regarding implementation of the rule.

    USCIS Policy Manual: Part G - Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility
  8. Subsequent Action

    November 3, 2020

    Several U.S. District Courts initially enjoined the public charge rule. Subsequent decisions by two Circuit Courts upheld the initial injunctions (Second and Seventh); one vacated the initial injunction (Fourth); and one Circuit partially enjoined the rule but has delayed the effective date of the order until the U.S. Supreme Court determines whether to grant certiorari in two separate cases (Ninth).

    The cases are:

    • Second Circuit: Injunction upheld 8/4/20 but scope limited to NY, CT. VT. Stayed by SCOTUS 1/27/20. COVID-related injunction stayed by 2nd Cir. 9/11/20. New York v. DHS (S.D.N.Y. 1:19-cv-0777; 2nd Cir. 19-3591). SCOTUS granted cert. on 2/22/21.
      • On March 9, 2021, the parties submitted a joint-stipulation to dismiss the case to SCOTUS.
    • Fourth Circuit: Nationwide injunction vacated 8/5/20. CASA de Maryland v. Trump (D. Maryland 8:19-cv-02715; 4th Cir. 19-2222).
    • Seventh Circuit: Illinois injunction upheld 6/10/20. Rehearing denied 8/12/20. Cook County & ICIRR v. Wolf (N.D. Ill. 1:19-cv-06334; 7th Cir. 19-3169). Stayed by SCOTUS 2/21/20.
      • On March 9, 2021, the parties submitted a joint-stipulation to dismiss the case to SCOTUS.
      • Texas and other states filed a motion to intervene, but on April 26, 2021, SCOTUS denied their application.
    • Ninth Circuit: Nationwide injunction stayed 12/5/19; decision issued 12/2/20, partially reinstating two lower court injunctions, but vacating portion of the Eastern District of Washington's injunction that applied nationwide. The rule was enjoined in plaintiff jurisdictions - 18 states and the District of Columbia (though the mandate had not yet issued). State of California v. DHS (9th Cir. 19-17213). The appeal comes from district court orders in the consolidated cases City and County of San Francisco; County of Santa Clara v. USCIS (N.D. Cal. 19-cv-04717) and State of California v. DHS (N.D. Cal. 19-cv-04975), and the separate case State of Washington v. DHS (E.D. Wash. 19-cv-05210).
      • In mid-March, 11 states sought to intervene in the Ninth Circuit litigation to defend the public charge rule after the Biden administration "effectively abandoned" it. On April 8, 2021, a split panel denied their motion to intervene, functionally ending the litigation.
      • Separately, in La Clinica De La Raza et al. v. Trump et al. (N.D. Cal. 4:19-cv-04980), on 11/25/20, the district court granted the plaintiffs' motion to reconsider HSA/FVRA claims, after previously granting the government's motion to dismiss such claims on 8/7/20.
      • On January 22, 2020, the Ninth Circuit granted DHS’s request to delay the effective date of the December decision until the U.S. Supreme Court determines whether it will grant writs of certiorari in Wolf v. Cook County, No. 20-450, and DHS v. New York, No. 20-449, two separate public charge cases. As a result, the public charge rules are in effect nationwide.

    **Litigation is listed for informational purposes and is not comprehensive. For the current status of legal challenges, check other sources.**

    AILA Featured Issue: Public Charge Changes at USCIS, DOJ, and DOS
  9. Biden Administration Action

    March 9, 2021

    This Biden Administration policy in effect revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On March 9, 2021, DOJ filed with plaintiffs a joint stipulation to dismiss the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively ending the rule.

    Before the U.S. Supreme Court: Joint Stipulation to Dismiss
  10. Biden Administration Action

    March 10, 2021

    This Biden Administration policy revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On March 10, 2021, USCIS posted on its website a return to the pre-Trump era public charge policy and instructed applicants on how to deal with requests for evidence and notices of intent to deny issued under the now-defunct policy.

    USCIS Website: Public Charge
Type of Action: Rule
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Prior Policies

  • Legacy INS guidance previously limited the interpretation of ‘‘likely at any time to become a public charge’’ as likely to become primarily dependent on the government (federal, state, or local) for subsistence (previously limited to public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense). This was the pre-Trump policy - this original policy had already been altered through changes to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual.

    INS Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds from 1999

Subsequent Actions

Biden Administration Actions

Other Documents

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