Effective October 15, 2019, unless halted by litigation, the standard by which a foreign national is determined to be “likely at any time to become a public charge” (and consequently inadmissible to the U.S.) will drastically change.
Old Definition and Application of Public Charge
Previously, a “public charge” involved situations where a foreign national was “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence as demonstrated by either (i) receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” Furthermore, sponsorship via an affidavit of support (filed on Form I-864) would generally prevent a foreign national from being considered a public charge.
New Definition and Application of Public Charge
Under the new rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) on August 14, 2019, “a public charge is [a foreign national] who receives one or more public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two public benefits in one month counts as two months).”