USCIS Abandons 2019 Public Charge Rule, Abolishes Form I-944

USCIS will no longer use the Trump Administration’s 2019 Public Charge Rule for adjudication of permanent resident “green card” petitions. The announcement abolishes Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency, and should result in streamlined petitions, lower fees, and faster adjudication.

On March 9, the Justice Department said it would no longer defend lawsuits against the controversial amendments to the Rule, which asked petitioners to prove they had never relied on, and were not at risk of relying on, public benefits such as food stamps, public housing, or Medicaid. Critics of the expanded criteria compared the 2019 Public Charge Rule to a wealth test.

Following the Justice Department’s announcement, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal of a lower court ruling that had suspended the Trump Administration’s policy. Adjudication of green card petitions will still include the public charge criteria established in the 1999 Interim Field Guidance, which restricts green cards for those receiving government cash assistance or long-term institutionalized care.

This development is the most recent example of USCIS rollback of the previous administration’s most egregious anti-immigrant policies under President Biden. USCIS recently announced it would abandon changes made to the citizenship test during the Trump Administration. Combined with President Biden’s support of decreasing backlogs in green card petitions and increasing visa opportunities for skilled workers, these announcements show a marked change in tenor from the Trump Administration.