USCIS “NOT” TO APPLY NEWLY IMPLEMENTED PUBLIC CHARGE RULE DURING COVID-19 NATIONAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
by Rabindra Singh
On July 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in State of New York, et al. v. DHS, et al. and Make the Road NY et al. v. Cuccinelli, et al. enjoined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On July 31, 2020, USCIS issued an announcement in response to the SDNY injunction stating that it will NOT apply the Public Charge rule implemented on February 24, 2020.
USCIS further clarified that as long as the July 29, 2020, SDNY decision is in effect, USCIS will apply the 1999 public charge guidance in place of the Public Charge Rule implemented on Feb. 24, 2020, to the adjudication of any application for adjustment of status on or after July 29, 2020. In addition, USCIS will adjudicate any application or petition for extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status on or after July 29, 2020, consistent with regulations in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented; in other words, USCIS will not apply the public benefit condition.
Further, USCIS will NOT consider any information provided by an applicant or petitioner that relates to the Public Charge Rule, including information provided on the Form I-944, or information on the receipt of public benefits in Part 5 on Form I-539, Part 3 on Form I-539A or Part 6 on Form I-129 for applications and petitions that USCIS adjudicates on or after July 29, 2020.
USCIS has advised that applicants and petitioners whose applications or petitions are postmarked on or after July 29, 2020, should NOT include the Form I-944 or provide information about the receipt of public benefits on Form I-485, Form I-129, or Form I-539/I-539A.
USCIS is expected to issue guidance regarding the use of affected forms. In the interim, USCIS confirmed that it will NOT reject any Form I-485 on the basis of the inclusion or exclusion of Form I-944, nor Forms I-129 and I-539 based on whether Part 6, or Part 5, respectively, has been completed or left blank.