BREAKING: Public Charge Rule is Back

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick provides an important update regarding a recent ruling that brings back the “public charge,” rule. On August 12, a panel of three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a ruling invalidating a previous nationwide injunction issued by a lower court judge that temporarily blocked the government from enforcing the “public charge” rule nationwide for as long as the Coronavirus remained a public health emergency.

The lower court’s injunction was issued on July 29th out of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Judge Daniels. In his decision, Judge Daniels had ordered the government to immediately stop “enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating,” as effective the “public charge” rule for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


What is this all about?

Since the issuance of the lower court’s injunction on July 29th, the Trump administration immediately appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. A decision was expected to be handed down in a matter of weeks.

On August 12th the decision finally came, and it was very unexpected. The Court of Appeals decided that the issuance of a nationwide injunction was inappropriate and instead narrowed the scope of the injunction to apply only to the three states that filed the lawsuit (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont). The Court of Appeals stated that the injunction was warranted only with respect to these states because only these states were able to demonstrate standing, irreparable harm, and a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of the underlying case.

Therefore, the injunction preventing enforcement of the “public charge” rule no longer applies on a nationwide basis, and instead only prevents enforcement of the “public charge” rule against residents of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

What does this new ruling mean for applicants?

The new ruling means that the “public charge” rule will not be enforced against residents of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, for as long as there is a declared national health emergency in response to COVID-19. For these individuals, USCIS will not apply the February 2020, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule,” and will instead apply the 1999 public charge guidance policies that were in place before the “public charge” final rule was implemented in February.

For everyone else, the February 2020 “public charge” rule will continue to be enforced and applicants should continue to submit Form I-944 and public charge documentation with their adjustment of status applications.

Has USCIS responded to the new ruling?

No. We are waiting for USCIS to issue new guidance letting the public know in what circumstances public charge documentation including Form I-944 will be required in light of this new ruling. USCIS has only responded to the previous lower court’s ruling stating that it would comply with the nationwide injunction. We will notify our readers as soon as USCIS has released a statement.

What should I do now?

When in doubt continue to submit Form I-944 with public charge documentation included with your application. You may also wish to consult with an attorney to discuss this new ruling further.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text or call 619-569-1768.

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