This past week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing its new public charge rule nationwide. The Department of State (DOS), which published its own version of the new rule, announced it, too, will begin evaluating applications based on the new rule relating to public charge inadmissibility beginning February 24, 2020.
The new public charge rule redefines the term “likely at any time to become a public charge,” which is a ground of inadmissibility found in INA § 212(a)(4). “Public charge” is now defined as a foreign national who receives one or more 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)."
Under the new rule, adjudicators are instructed to examine the applicant’s age, health, family status, financial standing, and education/skills by using a discretionary “totality of the circumstances” test. The new public charge rule also expands the list of designated public benefit programs that can be considered when making a public charge inadmissibility finding.