– Michael J. Gurfinkel
Pres. Trump’s new, stricter public charge rules seem to go back and forth, like a tennis or ping-pong match. It becomes very confusing for applicants as to which public charge guidelines they should follow: the ones that have been in existence since 1999; or the new ones Pres. Trump just implemented, which had been subject to a court injunction? Here is the latest news and background:
On July 29, 2020 a US District Court issued a nationwide injunction, prohibiting USCIS from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective, Pres. Trump’s new public charge rules, as long as there is a national health emergency caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
USCIS then announced on its website it would abide by this injunction, and that as long as the court’s decision is in effect, “USCIS will apply the 1999 public charge guidance that was in place before the public charge rule was implemented on Feb. 24, 2020 to the adjudication of any application for adjustment of status on or after July 29, 2020.”
However, on Aug. 12, 2020, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals limited the scope of that injunction to only Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. That is because the District Court that issued the injunction only had jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. Therefore, USCIS may now implement its new public charge rule in all other states within the US except in the three states mentioned, thereby requiring applicants in the other states to submit the financial declaration (Form I-944).
Interestingly, as of Aug. 19, 2020, USCIS has not updated its injunction page, nor added back the Form I-944 to its forms page, nor provided guidance on how it will now implement these different public charge standards within the US.
People who are outside Connecticut, New York and Vermont may need to wait for guidance from USCIS on how to proceed before filing applications, unless it is critical a person files the petition or application because of issues of maintaining status, etc.
I would advise people to be prepared to meet the requirements of the Form I-944, consult an attorney to evaluate your case in reference to those new requirements, just in case they are brought back or if you have questions or are confused about eligibility or public charge requirements.
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