On March 9, 2021, DHS Secretary Mayorkas announced that USCIS will no longer enforce the 2019 public charge rule instituted by the Trump Administration.
The 2019 Rule was widely criticized for putting significant weight on an applicant’s prior use of Medicaid, public housing, and SNAP benefits when determining whether the applicant is likely to become a public charge (require government assistance) in the future. The policy served to give more power to officers to disqualify immigrant applicants, effectively making it more difficult to immigrate to the United States.
The 2019 Rule also increased the time it took USCIS officers to make decisions on applications, adding to the already growing backlog of pending cases.
The 2019 Rule saw many challenges in the federal court system since its implementation, and was up for Supreme Court review when Secretary Mayorkas made the announcement.
The announcement states “[a]s part of its review, DHS has determined that continuing to defend the [2019 Public Charge] rule is neither in the public interest nor an efficient use of limited government resources. Consistent with that decision, the Department of Justice will no longer pursue appellate review of judicial decisions invalidating or enjoining enforcement of the 2019 Rule.”
DHS will revert to the 1999 guidance on public charge, which already serves to test whether an applicant for permanent residence is likely to become a public charge in the future.
The 2019 Rule resulted in a new 18-page form – the I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency – that had to be submitted by applicants for permanent residence as part of their application process.
As the 2019 Rule is terminated and the 1999 guidance reinstated, we expect to see changes in usage of the I-944 Form – perhaps the form will be removed as a requirement or amended.
For our current clients with pending I-485 forms that have recently received a Request for Evidence directing the submission of Form I-944, please continue to work with us to prepare these forms until we have confirmation of any changes.
We expect to know more about the I-944 in the coming weeks.