Rollback of “public charge” immigration penalty
On September 8, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule on how DHS will enforce the public charge ground of inadmissibility. This rule clarifies what it means to be a “public charge”, and furthermore no longer punishes immigrants who choose to access government services.
This move by the Biden Administration rolls back a former Trump-era policy that limited legal immigration status by depriving people who could potentially rely on government aid. That policy in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), stated that a noncitizen cannot become a lawful permanent resident or citizen if they are “likely at any time to become a public charge.”
U.S. District Courts slowly began to roll back this Public Charge Rule, starting with the Northern District of Illinois in November 2020. Now, with federal government’s sanction, USCIS is no longer applying the Public Charge Rule, returning to the 1999 policy which was in place before the Trump administration.
“Consistent with America’s bedrock values, we will not penalize individuals for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security.
This final rule will go into effect on December 23, 2022, and it will facilitate a smoother immigration process for many potential new citizens.