Federal Judge Suspends Public Charge Rule During Pandemic

In an ideal world, everyone would have access to medical care and treatment during a pandemic—as well as financial assistance to pay for that care and compensate for any pandemic-related economic losses.

Individuals hoping to obtain green cards, however, are hesitating to seek medical treatment or apply for government assistance because of the recently passed public charge rule.

According to the new public charge rule, an individual may be ineligible for a green card if they use certain public benefits for a certain amount of time. The rule also gives adjudicating officers the authority to assess a broad range of characteristics—including income, expenses, employment, and more—to determine whether an applicant is (or could, at any point, become) a public charge.

Foreign nationals are now facing an impossible decision between foregoing necessary care and jeopardizing their eligibility for permanent residence.

Fortunately, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels addressed this plight and issued a nationwide injunction preventing the Department of Homeland Security from applying the public charge grounds of inadmissibility to applications during the COVID-19 national emergency. This injunction took effect on July 29th.

The public charge rule is meant to prevent individuals who would rely entirely on government assistance from immigrating to the United States. Now more than ever, the rule is arguably preventing American communities from overcoming the virus because nonimmigrants and undocumented immigrants have been discouraged from seeking the care they need.

On the day the President declared a national emergency, USCIS added an alert to their public charge page explaining that individuals could safely obtain COVID-19-related care and even financial assistance without jeopardizing their eligibility for an immigration benefit or status. Judge Daniels, however, was not convinced that this alert was enough.

The future of this injunction is unclear. However, we trust advocacy groups, legal professionals, and lower courts to continue fighting to protect the rights of immigrants.

Bring Your Concerns to Our Firm

Kanu & Associates, P.C. is here to answer your questions and put your concerns to rest. The immigration system undergoes significant change on a regular basis, and we can help you navigate this unpredictable landscape as you work toward your immigration goals. If you are concerned about the way the public charge rule or other policies may affect your case, we can empower you with the knowledge you need to make fully informed decisions.

Give our office a call at (602) 353-7795 or contact us online today. We look forward to serving you and your loved ones.

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