On July 30, 2020, New York District Court Judge George Daniels issued a nationwide preliminary injunction on the public charge rules. This injunction applies to both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. In the new public charge rule, DHS has revised the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received. The rule defines the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months). The rule further defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs. For more information, please click here.

The court has now ordered the suspension of the public charge rule during the COVID 19 pandemic, citing that the public charge rule puts significant burden on applicants, preventing them from seeking healthcare and medical help. Today’s injunction prevents DHS and the State Department from requiring Form I-485 adjustment of status, Form I-129 nonimmigrant worker, and Form I-539 extension or change of status applicants to comply with public charge rules.

DHS and the State Department are likely to appeal the court order. However, they should also issue guidance in the meantime regarding the procedure of submitting the above-mentioned applications during these times.

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