New DHS Public Charge Rules


Beginning October 15, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) will increase its scrutiny of the public charge ground of inadmissibility in applications for extension of stay, change of status, and adjustment of status. In applications for extension of stay and change of status, DHS will largely review whether the applicant has received more than a de minimis amount—that is, more than 12 months in any 36-month period—of certain federally funded government benefits, including SSI, TANF, General Assistance, SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing, and Section 9 housing. Notably, receiving two benefits in one month counts as two months of benefits under these guidelines. In applications for adjustment of status, DHS will review not only a noncitizen’s past receipt of benefits, but also her likelihood of receiving these benefits in the future. Significantly, DHS will also scrutinize an adjustment applicant’s employment history, credit score, and English-language ability.

Importantly, these rules do not apply to several categories of applicants, including refugees; asylees; victims of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes; VAWA self-petitioners; and Special Immigrant Juveniles. And women may continue to use Medicaid while pregnant and for up to 60 days after giving birth. Moreover, there is no penalty against an applicant whose U.S. citizen relatives have received government benefits. Further, although these rules disincentivize noncitizens from receiving these government benefits, they do not prohibit their use. Thus, individuals and families should carefully evaluate their options before disenrolling from these benefits.

Finally, because these rules will go into effect on October 15, 2019, applicants are incentivized to file before that date if possible. At Iyer, PLLC, we would be delighted to file your application for extension of stay, change of status, or adjustment of status. To schedule a preliminary consultation, please call us at (832) 430-3167.