What is the Public Charge Rule?

The public charge concept was first established by Congress in 1882 to allow the U.S. government to deny a U.S. visa to anyone who “is likely at any time to become a public charge” — but without defining what “public charge” means. Under the Trump administration, the “Public Charge rule” was being interpreted very broadly to reduce the number of people who are eligible for green cards and other visas, by redefining what makes them dependent on government benefits — or “likely” to be in the future. We previously blogged about this rule here (link) in November of 2020.

Both the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule and the Department of State (DOS) public charge policy are currently not in effect. The DHS rule was halted on March 9, 2021, while the DOS policy was paused indefinitely on July 29, 2020. Since this rule has been permanently vacated, the government will follow the 1999 interim field guidance on the public charge inadmissibility provision, at which time the Form I-944 will no longer be required. The government may issue additional guidance on this issue; however, until then, USCIS will not reject any green card applications based on the inclusion or exclusion of the Form I-944.