On July 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) enjoined the government from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective, the USCIS Final Rule on Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds (84 FR 41292, 8/14/19) for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The court also issued a separate order enjoining the Department of State (DOS) from implementing, or taking any actions to enforce or apply, the 2018 FAM Revisions, the DOS Interim Final Rule on Visa Ineligibility on Public Charge Grounds (84 FR 54996, 10/11/19), or the President’s October 4, 2019 Proclamation, Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System in Order to Protect the Availability of Healthcare Benefits for Americans (84 FR 53991, 10/9/19) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These injunctions have nationwide effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USCIS Public Charge Rule
On July 31, 2020, USCIS issued an announcement in response to the SDNY injunction stating that it will not apply the 2019 Public Charge rule, but rather will apply the 1999 public charge guidance while the SDNY decision is in effect.
USCIS stated that for applications and petitions that USCIS adjudicates on or after July 29, 2020, it will not consider any information provided by an applicant or petitioner that relates to the Public Charge Rule, including information provided on the Form I-944, or information on the receipt of public benefits in Part 5 on Form I-539, Part 3 on Form I-539A or Part 6 on Form I-129.
Moreover, applicants and petitioners whose applications or petitions are postmarked on or after July 29, 2020, should not include the Form I-944 or provide information about the receipt of public benefits on Form I-485, Form I-129, or Form I-539/I-539A.
USCIS also indicated that it will issue guidance regarding the use of affected forms. In the interim, USCIS will not reject any Form I-485 on the basis of the inclusion or exclusion of Form I-944, nor Forms I-129 and I-539 based on whether Part 6, or Part 5, respectively, has been completed or left blank.