Advice & Help

Immigration Advice: The New Public Charge Rule Is Closer To Being Reality

Immigration Advice: The New Public Charge Rule Is Closer To Being Reality

In August of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule in the Federal Register as to the Public Charge ground of inadmissibility.  This final rule would apply to cases decided by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Initially, the new rule was to take effect on October 15, 2019.  However, multiple federal lawsuits were filed, and various Federal Courts issued injunctions that temporarily stopped the rule from taking effect on October 15, 2019. 

On January 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court granted the federal government’s application to stay any and all remaining nationwide injunctions.  Simply put, this means that the rule is no longer being delayed from implementation, and as of January 27th, 2020 DHS is free to implement and to carry out the new public charge rule [1].  Public Charge is now a ground of inadmissibility.  A ground of inadmissibility means that a person could be denied a green card, visa or admission into the United States.  In simple terms, an Immigration Officer, conducting an interview, and deciding whether to grant an applicant a green card or visa, must decide whether that applicant is likely to become dependent on the US government for certain immigration benefits which would make them a public charge.  If that were to be the case, under the new public charge rule, USCIS or the Department of State (DOS) could deny an applicant either a green card or visa as the case may be.

The new rule, which is now in effect, means that a public charge can be a person who receives any number of public benefits or public assistance for more than an aggregate of twelve (12) months over any thirty-six (36) month period of time.  Please note, each benefit received or used counts towards the twelve (12) month calculation.  By way of example, if an applicant were to receive two different benefits in one month, under the new rule, that would count as two months use of the benefits.

It is essential that any individual who is intending on applying for immigration benefits and more specifically, a green card, consult with a qualified immigration attorney before they apply for an immigration benefit, such as a green card.  Please note, that under the new rule, if an applicant is considered a public charge by an Immigration Officer, the Immigration Officer shall have the right to deny that individual’s application for a green card, solely because of being a public charge if that individual is found to be a public charge by an Immigration Officer. 

This new rule will have far reaching impact on the Jamaican and Caribbean community.  However, it should be noted that the US Supreme Court only lifted the injunction or injunctions that were entered in Federal Courts.  The US Supreme Court has directed that the Federal Courts in which the cases regarding the public charge rule have been filed are to be heard on the merits.  Thus, it is possible that those Courts, after a hearing on the merits will vacate or set aside the public charge rule.  It is also likely that, if any Federal Court or Courts vacate or set aside the public charge rule, that such ruling will be appealed to the US Supreme Court and the US Supreme Court will have a hearing on the merits and may either find the new public charge rule constitutional or unconstitutional.

In the meantime, before filing any application for a green card, please consult a qualified immigration attorney to discuss the new public charge ground of inadmissibility.  I would be happy to consult with you and may be contacted via telephone at (305) 648-3909 or via email at [email protected] for a confidential consultation. 

[1]Except in the State of Illinois.

About the Author

Oliver J. Langstadt is a Jamaican American attorney
Oliver J. Langstadt is a Jamaican American attorney admitted to practice law in the state of Florida.  He was raised in St. Mary Jamaica, near Highgate. He completed his high school education at the Priory School in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended the University of Miami School of Law and graduated with his law degree in 1985.  He has been practicing law and immigration law for over twenty-five years.   He is well-seasoned in all aspects of immigration law, including family petitions, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, business visas, investor visas, waivers from removal and unlawful presence, naturalization applications, and removal defense.  He may be contacted at 305 648 3909 or via e-mail, at [email protected]   He welcomes the chance to be of service regarding your US immigration cases and matters.

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About the author

Oliver J. Langstadt