On January 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court granted a stay of a lower court injunction, thus allowing the federal government to pursue—for now—an amended public charge policy in all US jurisdictions but Illinois. 

On August 14, 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) published a final rule amending the immigration regulations related to the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The final rule defines public benefits—the receipt of which will prevent an applicant from extending their stay in the United States in a nonimmigrant (temporary) status or adjusting to lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) status—as federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance; Supplemental Security Income; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program; Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act; and federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions). Initially set to take effect on October 15, 2019, the rule was immediately challenged through litigation. A nationwide injunction issued by a federal district court in New York prevented the implementation of the final rule, until now. 

The Court’s holding opens the door for the administration to implement the public charge final rule while the underlying litigation continues. Illinois, which gained a separate statewide injunction, is the only jurisdiction where the final rule currently cannot be implemented.

Now that it may proceed with implementing the public charge final rule, the US Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) is likely to act quickly to publish notice of a new effective date for implementing the public charge regulation and for use of the new forms, including Form I-129, Form I-485, Form I-539, Form I-864, Form I-864 EZ, Form I-944, and Form I-945, designed to collect the information necessary for its application.