DHS Seeks Public Comments on the Public Charge Rule

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will seek public comment to inform the public charge regulatory proposal development. The intention of public comment is to ensure that the process and proposal are fair for all relevant parties, consistent with the law, and based on evidence and data.

The public comment period is open for 60 days, from Monday, August 23 through October 22, 2021.

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will solicit feedback and data from state, territorial, local, and tribal agencies that administer public benefits and nonprofit organizations. In addition, the ANPRM will identify the various considerations for the public charge grounds for inadmissibility, including how DHS should define the term “public charge” and which benefits are relevant to the inadmissibility determination.

“DHS is taking an essential step to implement a fair and rational rule that does not cause fear and confusion among immigrant communities. We will continue to uphold this administration’s efforts to remove undue barriers in the immigration system and sources of fear that prevent immigrants from accessing benefits for which they are eligible,” said Ur M. Jaddou, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Erickson Insights

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a noncitizen who is likely to become a public charge is generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident.

The Trump administration issued a public charge rule, that as previously reported, would limit immigration benefits for applicants who participate in government assistance programs. The rule at the time caused a great deal of apprehension within immigrant communities regarding which benefits were grounds for inadmissibility. However, USCIS does not consider a person’s receipt of Medicaid (except for Medicaid for long-term institutionalization), public housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, and other nutrition assistance as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination. Additionally, vaccinations or medical treatment for COVID-19 also are not considered for public charge purposes.