When applying for permanent residence, it is critical to understand and distinguish between the two different agencies charged with processing green card applications. In general, after a petition is approved-whether though family or employment-an applicant must choose whether to pursue consular processing or adjustment of status (assuming that one's priority date is current). Put simply, consular processing refers to a process where an individual appears for an interview at a US consulate abroad. These types of cases are handled primarily through the Department of State through the National Visa Center, which collects certain documents and forms before forwarding them to the US consulate. In contrast, the adjustment of status procedure takes place inside the US. The case is filed with and adjudicated domestically by USCIS.
Now that the Public Charge is a reality, anybody intent on applying for permanent residence must understand that immigration just got a whole lot harder. Under the new guidelines, which some have loosely called a "wealth test," immigration officers are vested with extraordinary discretion in judging whether a green card applicant is likely to become dependent on the federal government for assistance. While there are certain classes of people who are exempt, the vast majority of green card applicants, especially those immigrating through family, are subject to the rule, whether applying inside the US through an Adjustment of Status process or abroad through Consular Processing.
Applicants for permanent residence should be aware that the new public charge guidelines are intended to apply to all applicants for admission. Technically speaking, the new I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency and revised guidelines will be going into effect February 24, 2020, for nearly all adjustment of status applicants (that is, applicants who are applying for their green cards from within the US.)
If you are a permanent resident planning on traveling abroad for an extended period of time, it may be worthwhile to explore your options with an immigration attorney. Green card holders must be cognizant of the abandonment of permanent residence issue, which potentially comes into play anytime a permanent resident spends more time outside the US than inside. Abandonment of a green card may also be implicated when a resident travels outside for more than six months, and especially so if the permanent resident stays outside for one year or more.