State Department Proceeding with Implementing its Own Version of Public Charge Rule

In October, four courts issued injunctions barring the Trump Administration from implementing the controversial public charge rule that would dramatically change the way immigration law operates in the United States. Two of the courts issued nationwide injunctions. One barred USCIS from using forms released at the last minute and another issued an injunction limited to just the West Coast states. USCIS quickly took down the new forms from its web site.

On October 11, the State Department also made the surprising move of releasing an interim public charge final rule set to take effect just a week after publication. Although the effective date of the interim final rule is October 15, 2019, DOS has announced that it will not implement the new rule until the use of a new form for information collection is approved by the Office of Management and Budget.  Additionally, on October 24, 2019, DOS published a 60-day Notice of Proposed Information Collection for its Public Charge Questionnaire, which is a necessary step to have the new information collection approved.  DOS has stated that it will inform visa applicants of any changes to current visa application procedures.

The delay, for now, in implementation of the public charge rule at U.S. consulates abroad is welcome news. The public charge rule is vastly more restrictive than current policy and could result in significantly higher rates of denial of adjustment of status and immigrant visa applications, drastically reducing legal immigration if implemented.  As Vox reports, however, the proposed rule has already had a chilling effect.  Noncitizens, weary of the immigration consequences, have already been dropping public benefits in large numbers. 

Chin & Curtis will continue to monitor updates in this area.

Details: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/11/20899253/trump-public-charge-immigrants-welfare-benefits-court; DOS Announcement: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/Information-on-Public-Charge.html