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State Department Delays Use of Public Charge Form

October 24, 2019

On Wednesday, the State Department began a 60-day comment period on the Public Charge rule. This comment period slows down the department’s initially expedited approach for the implementation of its public charge application. As previously reported, the State Department’s rule was in effect as of October 15, but it was not enforced.

The comment period invites feedback on the currently proposed questionnaire form which asks about an applicant’s “ability to financially support themselves” without federal government assistance. The public charge rule asserts that consular officers would be able to use the financial information as a reason to deny green card applicants applying from outside the U.S.

Following the 60-day comment period, this proposed form would be sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, further delaying a future implementation. A State Department official said that it would not enforce their “public charge” rule until the form is approved.

The State Department’s public charge rule is different from DHS, which changed the definition of public charge to include individuals who receive financial and non-monetary (food and healthcare) assistance. The DHS rule also allowed the department to deny green card applications for those already living in the US if it was determined that the applicant was likely to need public assistance.

DHS’s rule was blocked by three federal judges (California, NY, and Washington) from being implemented nationwide earlier this month.