New USCIS Policy Guidance

FEBRUARY 7, 2020

Where can I find this information?

USCIS has posted detailed policy guidance regarding this rule in the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 8, Part G.

When does this rule start?

The rule will take effect February 24, 2020.

The rule applies to all applications and petitions that post-marked on or after the effective date of February 24, 2020 (except if you live in the State of Illinois, where a preliminary injunction is still in place). Anything that was filed and postmarked prior to that date will notbe subject to this new rule.

Who does this rule affect?

Applicants in the US who are not exempt.

This rule applies to applicants for admission who are seeking to adjust status to become a legal permanent resident (green card applicants) as well as applicants for non-immigrant visas who which to extend their stay in the US or change their status in the US.

Who won’tthis rule affect?

Applicants specifically exempt by statute

The statute exempts certain applicants from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The full list can be found in the regulations or on the USCIS. While somethe following applicants may be exempt from the majority of the public charge grounds they must still meet some basic requirements (like having a sufficient affidavit of support):


T-Visa Victims of Human Trafficking

U-Visa Victims of Particular Crimes

VAWA Self-Petitioners (unless they are seeking to adjust in certain employment categories)

Special Immigrant Juvenile Self-Petitioners

What about applicants for a Green Card who are consular processing?

Applicants who will be applying for a Green Card at the consulate abroad rather than adjusting status in the US are not subject to these particular guidelines but the Department of State will be releasing separate guidance for the public charge rule.

What is a public charge?

"Public charge” is a ground of inadmissibility that would result in the denial of a green card, visa, or admission into the United States.

The new rule creates additional factors that must be considered when an immigration officer is deciding whether to grant an applicant a green card, a change of status, or a visa. An immigration officer must decide whether applicant is likely to become dependent on certain government benefits in the future. If the immigration officer determines that the applicant is likely to become dependent on government benefits in the future then the applicant would be deemed a “public charge.”

How will USCIS determine whether or not an applicant is inadmissible as a public charge?

When reviewing an application the USCIS officer will consider eight factors, along with evidence submitted to determine whether or not, “under the totality of the circumstances”, the applicant is "more likely than not to become a public charge" at any timein the future.

The eight factors that are considered when making this determination are:

  1. The applicant’s age;

  2. The applicant’s health;

  3. The applicant’s family status;

  4. The applicant’s assets, resources & financial status;

  5. The applicant’s education & skills;

  6. The applicant’s prospective immigration status & expected period of admission;

  7. A sufficient affidavit of support pursuant to INA $213A (From I-864); and

  8. The presence of heavily weighted positive & negative factors.