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NEW: US Supreme Court Upholds Public Charge Rule in 5-4 Decision

On January 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court upheld the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Public Charge rule in a 5-4 decision, allowing the rule to take effect immediately.

This rule provides a framework for determining whether a visa or green card applicant is likely to "become a public charge" and therefore, is not eligible to stay or be admitted in the US. DHS defines a public charge as a non-US citizen who is likely to receive one of the following benefits for more than one year within any three year period:

  • Any federal, state or local income assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or other programs

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps)

  • Section 8 Housing

  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance

  • Medicaid (there are exceptions for pregnant women or individuals under the age of 21)

  • Public housing

Please note that obtaining two of these benefits in one month will be calculated as two months of receiving benefits for the purpose of this rule. Also, providing a sufficient affidavit of support along with each application to show financial support from other means, may not be sufficient. Instead, to make a determination, USCIS will weigh a variety of factors, including the visa or green card applicant's health, family status, age, education, skills, assets, resource and financial status.

So, what does this mean for you? This new rule is significantly more restrictive that USCIS's previous policy. This means that there may be higher visa and green card denial rates due to this new rule. Before filing a visa or green card application, you should speak with a US immigration attorney to determine whether this rule could affect your application.

If you have any questions, please contact Ayla Adomat at

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