Judge Issued an Order to Stop Public Charges During COVID-19 - Updated November, 2020!

If you are in the middle of your green card application process, you must have heard the Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, known as Public Charge Rules, which went into effect in February 24th, 2020. On Wednesday, July 29th, US District Judge issued an order to stop the administration from carrying the new rules out during the pandemic. Let's see what this is all about from the beginning to present time:

***New Updates March 9th, 2021: Public Charge Rule Form I-944 is No Longer Needed After March 9th, 2021!

Judge Issued an Order to Stop Public Charges During COVID-19

New Public Charge Rules Went in Effect in February 2020

As a matter of fact, the public charge rules have been in the laws for a long time; however only fewer than 1% of the applicants were disqualified on public charge grounds before. Therefore, the administration wanted to expand the rules and tighten up the requirements for potential applicants. The Supreme Court approved the administration's plan in January and the new Public Charge Rules went into effect in February 24th, 2020. Click here to learn more about the new Public Charge rules. 

Now let's come back to the present time:

US District Judge Issued an Order to Stop Public Charges During COVID-19

On Wednesday, July 29th, 2020, US District Judge George B. Daniels ordered Trump administration from rolling the rules out during the pandemic.

Why? Because the public charge rules are deterring many applicants, legal immigrants, from seeking for medical assistance very much needed during COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to threaten all Americans' lives and work. There's also some discussion about whether the rules make sense during other disaster events in the future such as tornado, plaques, floods, etc.

**USCIS Updated their messages to respond to this new order:

"As long as the July 29, 2020, SDNY injunction 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. In addition, USCIS will adjudicate any application change of nonimmigrant status on or after July 29, 2020, we will not apply the public benefit condition."

I believe this is the right decision that will help our overall healthcare system, economy, as well as all immigrants' health.

**New Updates August 6th: A federal appeals court blocked the administration's new public charge rules from being enforced in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. This ruling doesn't affect Judge Daniel's order on July 29th. 

**New Updates on September 11th: Now USCIS added back Form I-944 and requires it for all applicants after Feb. 24th, 2020. See details here.

Do I Still Need to Submit Form I-944? 

Some lawyers mentioned that if you already got everything ready to go, submitting the form doesn't hurt. As long as the injunction is in effect, USCIS won't reject your case because of Form I-944 since the new Public Charge rules are suspended during COVID-19. The Form I-485 instruction hasn't been updated yet though, so check back to see if there's further instruction on this part.

**Update: USCIS once again requires Form I-944 now. See more details here.

USCIS states:

 "On Sept. 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision that allows DHS to resume implementing the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility final rule nationwide, including in New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The decision stays the July 29, 2020, injunction, issued during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that prevented DHS from enforcing the public charge final rule during a national health emergency." Learn more here.

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