The so-called “public charge” rule recently went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to remove a nationwide injunction that was blocking the rule’s implementation. The rule, formally entitled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” broadens the criteria upon which the government can deny a petition to adjust immigration status or extend a stay because an alien is, or is likely to, become a “public charge.” The rule went into effect on February 24, 2020.

Issued and enforced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the rule defines “public charge” as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” The rule is intended to make it easier for immigration authorities to deny “status adjustment” to an alien because of his or her dependence on public assistance such as food stamps or federal housing subsidies.

In practical terms, the rule will most significantly impact applicants for green cards (permanent residence), but also expands the public charge inquiry for the first time to “nonimmigrants” seeking to extend their visa or change to a new visa category from within the United States, including H-1B visa holders seeking to extend their stay. As a result, the new rule could have a limited impact on employers who are sponsoring an employee or prospective employee for a green card as well as employers who are trying to extend the status of a work authorized alien, such as an H-1B visa holder.

Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.