Public Charge; Public Benefits and the Fee Waiver

Public Charge Proposed Rule

On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule that would expand the definition of public charge. These proposed rules are currently open for public comment until 12/10/2018. The proposed rule is not current law.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) has published useful information regarding the proposed rule on its website:

Here are a few important points regarding the public charge rule from ILRC:

  • The proposed rule interprets a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) pertaining to inadmissibility. The inadmissibility ground at issue says a person is inadmissible if they are likely to become a public charge. (INA § 212(a)(4)). This law only applies to individuals seeking admission into the United States or applying for adjustment of status. This is not a provision of the law that applies to all immigrants.
  • Public charge and this proposed rule do not apply in the naturalization process through which lawful permanent residents apply to become U.S. citizens.
  • The proposed rule is just a proposal. The law has not changed. 

For more information, visit ILRC’s website for updates to the proposed public charge rule.

See also: Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those On Public Aid, published by the New York Times

Public Benefits and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fee Waiver

On September 28, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a proposed rule that would eliminate 1 of 3 categories on the USCIS fee waiver form that is used for numerous immigration applications and work permit applications/renewals.

The fee waiver form currently has 3 eligibility categories:

  1. Receipt of means-tested benefit
  2. Household income below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  3. Financial hardship

The proposed rule would eliminate category 1, receipt of means-tested benefit. This means that people who receive Medi-Cal, or CalFresh, for example, can no longer simply demonstrate receiving these benefits to get a fee waived on a USCIS application, but instead will need to prove eligibility in one of the remaining 2 categories.

ILRC has created a Comment Template. This comment period ends Tuesday, 11/27/2018.