Last week, the Southern District Court of New York granted a preliminary injunction effectively staying further enforcement of the public charge rule. This is extremely significant news given that the order is to be applied nationwide in light of the irreparable harm and public interests engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the decision, the government is “enjoined from 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.” In practical terms, what this means is that the government is forbidden from applying the stricter public charge guidelines to individuals seeking admission to the US. The plain language seems to indicate that applicants for adjustment of status should not have to complete the onerous I-944 when submitting the I-485 application, and applicants should not bear the burden of demonstrating self-sufficiency at their interviews so long as this injunction is in effect.
This is an extremely significant development, especially for individuals who are financially challenged and not able to meet the strict wealth test imposed under the new public charge rules which went into effect this past February. As of this writing, USCIS has indicated that it will follow the court’s decision and apply the 1999 public charge guidance that was in effect previously for applications and petitions that it adjudicates on or after July 29, 2020. Applications that are postmarked on or after July 29, 2020 should not include Form I-944 until further notice.
The above is general information only. It is not specific legal advice nor intended to create an attorney client relationship. If you need advice, please consult with an attorney.