Last week witnessed the release of the much-dreaded final rule pertaining to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. To say that the new policy is a drastic reworking of the current practice is an understatement. The policy changes not only significantly expand the contours of what is considered a public charge but potentially arm adjudicators with additional tools to deny individuals seeking admission into the US. Since the Department of State has already implemented its own draconian public charge regulations, these new changes primarily affect people who are applying for family-based admission in the US, notably adjustment of status applicants. It also impacts certain non-immigrants requesting a change or extension of stay in the US.
On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security promulgated new rules regarding the public charge ground of inadmissibility that may have a tremendous impact on immigrants who have accepted public benefits. Under our immigration law, most applicants for permanent residence must demonstrate that they will not become a "public charge"-that is, someone who is likely to become "primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense." If the proposed rule is finalized without any alterations, the final rule will reach beyond cash assistance and long-term care to include health, nutrition, and housing programs as well. Some programs implicated include: