New Public Charge Rule to be in Effect on Feb 24 After Supreme Court Ruling

In August of 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a rule that would deny green cards and other visas to petitioners who are more likely than not to use various government provided public benefits, otherwise known as becoming a public charge. Previously, a public charge is someone who has become or who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Immigration officers typically look at the likelihood that the petitioner will receive supplemental security income, welfare, and other public benefits.

The August 2019 rule greatly increase the scope of the definition of a public charge. Instead of seeing whether the petitioner will be primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, officers can now deny if the petitioner is deemed more likely than not to use public benefits at any time in the future. The public charge rule has not been an issue in the past because most petitioners submit an affidavit of support showing that somebody will be able to provide financial support. However, the new public charge standard might become more of a challenge. Under this new standard, adjudicating officers will look to whether the petitioner has used government benefits in the past. The new standard will also expand the list of government benefits that would be considered negatively if the petitioner has used or will use in the future, such as food stamps and federal housing subsidies. Additionally, officers under the new standard will look to a wider variety of factors to determine whether the applicant will likely use public benefits in the future. These factors include but are not limited to age, financial status, health, size of family, education, skills, and assets. Furthermore, petitioners will be required to submit a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency Form to prove financial stability.

This much stricter public charge standard was temporarily put on hold through various injunctions issued by lower courts. However, on January 27, 2020, the U.S Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision to remove the injunction and allow the immigration agencies to enforce this new public charge rule (except in the state of Illinois where an injunction remains active). The new standard will be enforced starting on February 24, 2020.“USCIS will only apply the Final Rule to applications and petitions postmarked (or submitted electronically) on or after Feb. 24, 2020. For applications and petitions that are sent by commercial courier (e.g., UPS/FedEx/DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.” USCIS will subsequently update forms, instructions, and guides to reflect this new change in the upcoming week.The new rule will impact green card applicants, and certain non-immigrant visas (H1B, H4, L1, etc.).

Here at Zhang & Associates, we continue to observe and adapt to trends in the immigration field. By keeping an eye on changes in immigration law, the seasoned immigration attorneys at Zhang & Associates, with decades of collective experience successfully representing both immigrant and non-immigrant petitions, are best equipped to tackle any new challenges in the immigration field. In fact, a primary reason for our success over the span of more than two decades is that we don’t merely keep track of developments—we stay ahead of the curve, identifying trends first, recalibrating our strategies in response, and understanding the impetus to any changes made in immigration law or regulation.

If you are interested in a case evaluation at no charge, we invite you to start a conversation with us here.

Former U.S. Consular officer, Attorney Sechyi Laiu joined Zhang & Associates, P.C. on June 26, 2017

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu specializes on Consular Processing cases and business development. Attorney Laiu also focuses on TN visas, E visas, CBP administrative proceedings (monetary confiscation, deferred inspection), and overseas financial compliance.

Prior to joining Zhang & Associates, P.C., Attorney Laiu worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Chinese and Portuguese speaking diplomat. As a consular-coned officer who served in Vancouver (Canada), Shenyang (P.R. China), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Attorney Laiu processed over 30,000 visa cases and worked in every section of Consular Affairs overseas (Fraud Prevention Unit, Immigrant Visas, Non-Immigrant Visas, and American Citizen Services).

He will use his experience and expertise to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

Founded in 1996, Zhang & Associates, P.C. offers legal services to clients worldwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled over ten thousand immigration cases.

At Zhang & Associates, P.C., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, EB-5, PERM, I-485 I-130, H-1B, O, L and J cases. In the past twenty-two years, we have successfully helped over ten thousand clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang ( for a free evaluation.

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