The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced they will no longer defend the 2019 Public Charge rule and have withdrawn their appeal of an Illinois court decision invalidating the 2019 Public Charge rule. The result of DHS’s action is that the court’s decision striking down the 2019 Public Charge rule will become final and the previous 1999 interim field guidance (the immediate past policy) will apply.
Under the 1999 interim field guidance, DHS will not consider a person’s receipt of Medicaid (except for Medicaid for long-term institutionalization), public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination. In addition, medical treatment or preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccines, will not be considered for public charge purposes.DHS Statement on Litigation Related to the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility, March 9, 2021
DHS has pre-published a final rule, Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds; Implementation of Vacatur, that removes the 2019 Public Charge rule text from the Federal Register. The rule will take affect when published which is scheduled for March 15, 2021.
On July 29, 2020, Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction and temporary stay of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge rule. Judge Daniels’ order provides that DHS and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) can not enforce, apply, implement, or treat as effective the Public Charge rule as long as “there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The preliminary injunction and temporary stay applies nationwide as Judge Daniels wrote, “Each infected individual that travels to Governmental Plaintiffs’ jurisdiction [States of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont; and City of New York] risks undoing crucial progress made in combating this disease. Discouraging noncitizens nationwide from obtaining necessary treatment and care certainly undermines those efforts. Issuing geographically limited relief would not meaningfully abate the public health risk, especially when applied to a population that represents a significant portion of essential workers who continue to work outside of their homes ans interact with the public at large.”
The Public Charge rule, that defined public charge to include individuals receiving federal housing benefits, took effect February 24, 2020; after previous injunctions and stays were lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is anticipated that Judge Daniels’ preliminary injunction and temporary stay order will also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The July 29, 2020 order can be view here. NAHRO’s Public Charge One-Pager provides additional information on the DHS Public Charge rule. NAHRO will continue to follow the implementation of DHS’s Public Charge rule and share additional information as we receive it.
Over the past few days, the following guidance has been published:
HUD’s COVID-19 page can be found here.
All of this information and additional information can be found at NAHRO’s Coronavirus page. It is accessible to non-members and members and can be found here.
Except for in the State of Illinois, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin applying the Public Charge Final Rule to immigration applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020.
As a reminder the Public Charge Final Rule primarily applies to individuals that are applying for entry into the United States and to individuals that are temporarily in the United States and are applying for permanent residency in the United States. NAHRO has also issued an informational one-pager on the Public Charge Final Rule to provide PHAs an overview of the rule.
USCIS as issued a press release, Question and Answer Legal Resource, and updated the USCIS Policy Manual to provide additional information on the implementation of the Public Charge Final Rule. USCIS will provide additional information on implementation in Illinois if the injunction is lifted.