New application forms have been released in conjunction with looming Public Charge Regulation implementation. USCIS will have broader authority to examine whether foreign nationals will become a public charge of the United States. Specifically, the form has added sections that ask whether the beneficiary has received, since obtaining the non-immigrant status, certain benefits such as cash assistance for income maintenance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program. If a beneficiary has received or is currently certified to receive any of the public benefits, specific information regarding each public benefit must be provided.
As reported previously, this regulation will cause increased information and documentation requirements, as well as more close examination of personal circumstances of beneficiaries. However, non-immigrants who are seeking an extension or a change of status will not be fully impacted by the rule. They will be required to satisfy a new public charge condition to be deemed eligible the associated immigration benefit they are seeking.
For adjustment of status applicants, the new regulation will cause cases to be reviewed under a “totality of the circumstances” test which will take into consideration each applicant’s factors such as age, household size, income, and education. Additionally, adjustment of status (green card) applicants will be required to submit a copy of their credit history and credit score, as well as detailed information about their health coverage. If an applicant has certain health issues, this can deem the applicant unable to care for himself, which can be a disqualifying factor for the applicant. Unfortunately, there is currently not a bright line test in regards to what specifically would disqualify someone. We will need to wait and see how USCIS adjudicates such matters as they come through. A new I-485 form will we be used by USCIS starting February 24.
The regulation will create new eligibility conditions for those seeking an extension or a change of status from within the United States. Such applicants will be required to disclose if they have ever received or are currently certified to receive certain public benefits on or after February 24, 2020. The foreign beneficiary must have received benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period to be negatively affected by the regulation.
Starting February 24th, non-immigrant changes or extensions of status will need to be filed on updated editions of Form 1-129, which will also include the public charge questions. These will encompass the non-immigrant worker statuses, including, H-1B, L-1, and O-1 status.
For questions about whether you might be impacted by the new rule, please contact the Graham Adair attorney overseeing your case, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.