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The new public charge guidelines for immigrant applicants– originally set to start on October 15th – were, recently, put on hold by the U.S. Department of State. The form, DS-5540 (entitled “Public Charge Questionnaire”), was sent on August 27th to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to be approved on an emergency basis.

However, it was announced on October 10th that the implementation of its rule would be put on hold until its public charge guidelines align with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Currently, the State Department’s guidelines apply to a green card and visa applicants filing from outside the United States, while DHS’s guidelines apply to those filing from within the United States.

The DHS public charge rule has come under a number of lawsuits and federal judges in five states temporarily blocked the policy.

Both DHS and State Department rules will allow government officials to deny green cards and other visas to applicants they believe may be unable to financially support themselves once in the United States based on a number of factors, including age, income, English proficiency, and health.

What is the new rule?

According to the new rule, foreign nationals who received one or more public benefits for a total of one year in a three-year period can have their requests to change or extend nonimmigrant status denied. This public charge test only applies to the individual applying for a change of status or extension of stay – not their family unless the family member is also applying for change or extension of status.

More information on this rule can be found here.

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