The Department of Homeland Security will carefully reviewing immigrant applications to determine if past public benefits have been received and for what purpose and duration. Prior to this new law change, there was not much emphasis on public benefits received. Under the revised law, many people who would have previously qualified for immigration benefits may no longer qualify. Under certain circumstances, receipt of public benefits will disqualify certain applicants from receiving greencards, non-immigrant visas and/or citizenship. Each case will be considered on its own merits and discretion can be exercised by the officer reviewing the case.

The Public Charge Inadmissibility Rule ensures that those seeking to come to the United States do not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but instead, rely on their own capabilities and resources.. Under this revised rule, immigrants coming to the US will be self-sufficient and succeed in this country without government assistance. The final rule clarifies the factors that are considered when determining whether someone is likely to become a public charge in the future. When someone becomes a public charge, they are ineligible for admission to the United States or adjustment of status.

Public charge is defined by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” Public benefits include cash assistance from Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and state or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance.

The Rule applies to the following people: applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident, and aliens in the United States who hold a nonimmigrant visa and seek to extend their stay in the same nonimmigrant classification or to change their status to a different nonimmigrant classification.

The final Public Charge Inadmissibility Rule will become effective on October 15, 2019, and will be applied to applications and petitions postmarked on or after that date.