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How to fill USCIS New I-539 Form with Public Charge Info: H4, L1, F1?

As many of you know, USCIS in mid Aug 2019, released the final version of the Public Charge rule that impacts H1B, H4, L1, F1 visa holders, including many other visa types. It is set to be effective from October 15th, 2019. USCIS has released new version of the forms late yesterday.  If you are filing the form I-539 with USCIS for Extensions, Change of Status on or after Oct 15th, 2019, then you need to use the latest version of the form. In this article, we will review the changes in the new form I-539 and how to answer them based on your situation.

Update : Public Charge Rule was removed by Biden Administration in March 2021. The below article and the Form Discussed in this article is no longer applicable. USCIS Has updated their forms now and there is No public Charge information to be filled in that form. You need to use the form with Edition 03/10/21 edition. Starting April 19, 2021, USCIS will only accept the new form I-539 without Public Charge info in it.

If you recall, this is the second time Form I-539 is changed this year. We had New Form I-539 for Biometrics Process…Anyways, before we jump into details, let’s try to understand, who all will be impacted…

Who all are impacted with the New I-539 form, I-539A form with Public Benefits?

USCIS I-539 form, I-539A is used by many categories of visa holders as listed below and all of them need to declare regarding their receipt of public benefits, unless their visa category is exempted.

  • H1B dependents ( spouse, children) – H4 Visa Holders filing for extension/ change of their status
  • L1 Dependents ( spouse, children) – L2 Visa holders filing for extension/ change of their status
  • B1 / B2 – Visitor visa holders to extend/ change their status
  • F1 Visa for Change of Status (COS), Reinstatements, J1 Holders
  • Other visa holders’ dependents like CW-2, E category dependents.

Visa Categories Exempted from filling Public Benefits Section in Form I-539

If you are applying under the below visa categories, then you do not have to provide information related to your receipt of public benefits when using form I-539:

  • A1, A2, G1, G2, G3, G4
  • NATO1, NATO2, NATO3, NATO4, NATO5, NATO6, NATO7
  • T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, U1, U2, U3, U4, U5.

Now that we know, who all are impacted, let’s look the changes.

What is the new version of the form I-539, I-539A form that needs to be used ?

You need to look at the edition of the form at the bottom of the form and the expiration of the form at the top. It should  “Edition 10/15/19” and you will also see a bar code. Also, on top, you will also see updated expiration dates from previous forms that says “Expires as 10/31/2021.  See below.

New Form I-539 Edition 10-15-2019 USCIS - Public Benefits and Public Charge Version

What are the changes in New USCIS Forms I-539 for H4, L2, F1 – Extensions, Change of Status?

If you look at the new Form I-539 that is used for Extensions or Change of status, below are the changes:

  • There is a new section that is added to the form for Public Benefits. It is Part 5.
  • There is a bar code at the bottom of the page.  
  • The size of the form increased by 1 page.
  • The previous Part 5 and above have just got a new incremented number. No changes in their text.

See below the actual new pages with public benefits section, bar code.

Public Benefits for Public Charge I-539 form USCIS
Public Benefits for Public Charge I-539 form USCIS - Page 2

What are the changes in the New form I-539A with Public Benefits ?

Similar to above, below are the changes in the new I-539A form, which is used by co-applicants, who file along with the main I-539 applicant.

  • There is a new section that is added for Public Benefits, named as Part 3.
  • There is a bar code at the bottom of the page.  
  • The size of the form increased by 2 pages.
  • The previous section 3 and above have just got a new incremented number. No changes in their text.

See below the actual new pages with public benefits section. It starts on Page 1 and then continues till page 2 and page 3

Public Benefits for Public Charge I-539A - Co-Applicant form USCIS
Public Benefits for Public Charge I-539A - Co-Applicant form USCIS - Page 2

How to fill the New I-539 form Part 5. Public Benefits Section?  

The USCIS new form I-539 clearly indicates the list of public benefits and you need to select the box accordingly based on your situation and if you utilized any such public benefits.  Any other benefits that are not listed in the form are not counted towards the public charges, so no need to worry about them…Below are some key tips to filling the public benefits section Part 5

  • Public Benefits Usage Dates to consider for filling form I-539: One important note is that you need to only report public benefits that you have received on or after October 15th, 2019. You do NOT have to disclose any benefits that you have used or received before October 15th, 2019.
  • Benefits Utilized for only few months:  Even if you have used benefits only for few months, still you need to include them. USCIS will do the math and then check against eligibility
  • Continued benefits from Oct 15th, 2019: If you are going to receive benefits in future after Oct 15th, 2019, as part of your current benefits continuation, you need to indicate them there in the section and provide proofs on how long you expect to receive them.
  • Proof of Public Benefits Used: If you have used any public benefits, then you need to submit the proofs of the same. The evidence you submit for the public benefit should have the details of your name, contact info of the public agency, type of benefit, dates of the benefits.  If you fall under exclusions, you need to submit proofs for the same.

Part 5, Question 1 : Which Option to select, if have not received any benefit ?

Majority of the H4, L2, F1 holders may not have used any of the public benefits. The question 1, under part 5 can seem tricky, if you have never used any benefit. The reason is that you would see something that says “not certified to receive any of the above …”. See below.  The concept of certification may not be aware for someone, who have not received any benefit.

Public Benefit - Certified or Not received Question

What is certification in context of public Benefit ?

In general, for someone to receive a public benefit, you need to get certification from the respective agency. Usually the agency certifies an individual or household for certain period for 6 to 12 months or 24 months to receive public benefits. To get certification you need to provide details of your household, visa status, income, etc, what is required for the benefit. If you not certified by the agency, then you cannot receive the benefit, even if you believe that you are eligible.  Also, you may need to get re-certification to continue receiving benefits.

Now that you know what certification means, clearly if you have not used any benefit, you would select the option “No, I have not received any of the above public benefits” and do not need to worry about the certification option. You would select as shown below. This is probably the most common response for H4, L2, F1 holders.

Public Charge Benefit - I have not received any of the above benefits Check

But, if you are eligible for public benefits, but not certified to receive benefits for whatever reason, then you would select the other option that you are not certified to receive benefits that exacts says “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits”

Hope that gives you enough information to fill out the new form I-539 and I-539A. You may also read Public Charge rule impact for F1 students

What do you think of the new I-539 form with Public Benefits Section ? Add your thoughts in comments.

   


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60 Comments

  1. what is the difference between not receiving public benefits and not being certified for receiving benefits. I am on L2 Visa applying for extension.

    Reply
  2. Hello ,

    Should we declare IEP in public benefits under IDEA ?? We applied I-539 for first time and I updated as No Benefits received/Certified as I was not aware of this clause , would that be a problem ?? our son is in IEP from Oct-2020,

    Reply
  3. Hi
    I’m applying H4 COS for my wife and she took pregnancy benefits from Dec 2017 to July 2018. Do I need to mention in public Benefits?

    Reply
  4. Hello,
    I am on my initial opt now and want to apply for COS from F1 to F2. The problem is that I am pregnant now and have applied for pregnancy Medicaid. The application is under process and I do not need to pay for medical bill till now. The problem is that when I have started to fill the form I-1539, in public charge part, I have found 2 questions (question number 1a and question number 4a) regarding public charge. Question number 4a is specific for pregnancy Medicaid. So, I have to answer question number 4a. Do I need to answer yes for question 1a simultaneously?
    It will be great help for me if you answer.
    Thank you
    Sayeda

    Reply
    • Sayeda,
      If you are going to use the medicaid, then you need to answer them accordingly. Please check the form, if they are dependent on each other, then they should be answered as yes.

      Reply
      • Hello,
        Does state funded Medicaid fall under public charge category? I had state funded Medicaid during my pregnancy. I thought that Medicaid would stop automatically after 60 days post partum. But It did not. I did not use Medicaid after 60 days post partum. Will it be counted as public charge although it is state funded?

        Thank you
        Sayeda

        Reply
  5. Hi Team
    My name is Neil
    we used Medicaid for her pregnancy from 01/27/2019 to 09/30/2019. My wife is on H4 VISA – now we want to apply for her change of status from H4 to F1 . Do we have to disclose to I -539 form about use of Medicaid ?

    What are the consequences?

    Any advice will be very helpful

    Reply
    • Neil,
      As it was a public benefit, you may need to disclose it. Assuming the medicaid was used only until 60 days from the last date of pregnancy…If so, that category you said does not fall under Public charge, so it should be fine.

      Reply
      • 1- it was used for 62 days from last day from pregenecy – cz July and August have 31 days so .. also we call medicaid right away – when we heard about this new rule – but they told us – it will automatically canceled on sept 30 . Cz it was last day of that enrollment

        2- in the new I 539 form instruction- it’s says – if we used on or after 15th oct 2019 then only we have to report it ? Do I still need to report this –
        But in the form I 539 says – use of public benefits after obtain the current immigration status – two sentences are contradicting .. or may be I am understanding wrong – if you can help to answer .

        3- what documents we need to submit ? To disclose

        Thank you so much for your feed back

        Reply
        • Neil,
          The important thing to note is you used it before the rule cam into effect, so you should be fine. Also, it is considered, if used on or after Feb 24, 2020.
          Now, if you look at the question, it says have you “EVER”, so you should disclose the same details. It will not have any effect though.
          You can disclose the hospital bills or any proofs that tell that you used medicaid option. There must be something that tells that you used that benefit right ? Check with hospital.

          Reply
  6. Hi I filed for change of status from F2 to F1 on April 2020. I haven’t received any public benefits. I didn’t know the meaning of certification at the time of filing or whether I am eligible for these benefits or not. I chose ‘ No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed benefits ‘ instead of choosing ‘ No, I did not receive any of the above benefits’. Will it be any problem?

    Reply
    • Israt,
      I do not know the implications of that…Try calling USCIS and clarify. Also, do update here on what you find out for community benefit.

      Reply
    • Hi Team,

      I answered Part 5 question 1 to “No, I have not received any of the above listed public benefits”, and left it blank in question 4a because I saw the question is about Medicaid which I never used.

      I am wondering if should I contact USCIS to change to “None of the above statements apply to me”?

      Thanks

      Lisa

      Reply
    • Hello,
      I am on my initial opt now and want to apply for COS from F1 to F2. The problem is that I am pregnant now and have applied for pregnancy Medicaid. The application is under process and I do not need to pay for medical bill till now. The problem is that when I have started to fill the form I-1539, in public charge part, I have found 2 questions (question number 1a and question number 4a) regarding public charge. Question number 4a is specific for pregnancy Medicaid. So, I have to answer question number 4a. Do I need to answer yes for question 1a simultaneously?
      It will be great help for me if you answer.
      Thank you
      Sayeda

      Reply
  7. Thank you for your help in advance.
    I am preparing I-539 for my wife for H4 visa. My question is whether holding a medicaid card issued by a state health authority means to be receiving public benefits. The card was issued to me only for an emergency treatment in 2014 and since I got the card, I have never used the card. About a year later, I received a letter informing that I had lost the benefits. (Due to this corona virus situation, the authority did not take any call around this time.) I am not sure where I should mark on Item No. 1 and No 4.a. in Part 5 on page 4 and 5 respectively.

    For Item No. 1 in Part 5 on page 4, should I mark “No, I have not received any of the above listed public benefit.” or “Yes, I have received…” with check on “Federally-funded Medicaid.”

    For Item No. 4a in Part 5 on page 5, should I mark “None of the above statement apply to me.” or “An emergency medical condition.”

    How do you think? Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Mir,
      No, just having the card does not mean you had used benefits. If you ever used benefits, then you need to indicate it. If no, then you can select “have not used” or “does not apply”

      Reply
  8. Hi Team,

    If I had answered Part 5 question 1 to “No, I have not received any of the above listed public benefits”, how do I answer to question 4a?

    Do I leave it blank or select “None of the above statements apply to me.”?

    Thanks,

    Reply
      • But the question is Have you received, applied for, or have been certified to receive federally-funded Medicaid ?

        If you doesn’t follow in any of the case then still need to chose the option ?

        Reply
    • Kumar,
      Unless, that is part of the public benefit as defined by them under the list they have on the form, it does not matter. I am not familiar with IDEA, not sure…

      Reply
    • Hi Kumar,

      This is Venkat, I am also looking for the answer for same question that my kid (h4 dep) goes to school under special education program called IEP. I think it also comes under IDEA but not sure about it.

      Please let me know how did you fill and any suggestions.

      Thanks,

      Reply
      • Venkat,
        I am not sure about IEP as well. In general, the same rule applies, unless it is explicit mentioned or classified as public benefit, it will not count.

        Reply
      • Hi Venkat,

        I am in same situation as yours. I am applying extension. Does IEP comes under IDEA. If yes, what documents we need to provide to exclusion. Also they are asking Type of benifit and
        Name and contact information for the public benefit granting agency. Please help me if you have already submitted.

        Reply
  9. Urgent help needed
    Hello,
    What is address for filing I-539 form for change of status from H4 to F1?

    The website has listed 3 Lockbox facilities but it is unclear.
    The top part of the page states it depends on WAC, LIN or EAC number.

    At the bottom of the page there another is section for I-539 filing location.

    So it is confusing where to send the application.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Aniruddha,
      You need to follow it based on the WAC, LIN or EAC number. The one on the top is more relevant…Call USCIS once to double check too.

      Reply
  10. Hi
    I am working as a postdoctoral fellow after my Ph.D. in a non-profit organization. I am planning to change F1 to J1 visa next month.
    My wife got an emergency Medicaid in 2015 for her labor and my son got Medicaid from December 2015 to May 2018. My daughter got Medicaid from March 2019 to January 2020. My son and daughter got SNAP from march 2019 to January 2020.
    How is going to affect the decision of visa change and how to deal with it

    Thank you
    Rams

    Reply
    • Ramesh,
      It will not affect, if it was taken before February 24th, 2020. You need to declare them, but you will be fine as the decision will not be based on that. You can submit a letter indicating the situation.

      Reply
  11. Need some clarification for i539 new form which was effective from 02/24

    My son is receiving speech therapy and for that we getting some funds from our county(nearly 3k/yr) and other money is from insurance and us. In new 539 form they asking if we are getting any public benefits, they asked to list.

    Is this comes under public benefits? If so is there any chance for h4 rejection? I reached out to the service provider they are not sure whether it comes under public benefits. If NOT under public benefits, should i choose No i am not certified for benefits or No i don’t avail the benefits?

    Please suggest.. Thanks much.

    Reply
    • Selvaraj,
      I don’t think insurance falls under that. if it is coming from federal benefits, then you maybe subject to it…if coming from insurance, should not be.
      You just choose No. Read the article again, it talks about the difference.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your response, sorry for not being very detailed in first.

        We are getting funds from Delaware Count board of developmental disabilities (ohio) nearly 3k per year and they directly pay to my son speech therapy people.

        since our speech therapy costs most than 3k per year, we use our insurance too to pay the remaining amount.

        Please suggest if it comes under any public benefits ?

        Reply
        • Selvaraj,
          Frankly, I don’t the specifics of Delaware Board…Here is how to look at it, if the offerings by the board to anyone is classified as Public Benefit that is listed in any of the items in the form, then it may be. This is very much a grey area…Try to call another similar board and then clarify the same…

          Reply
    • Hi Selvaraj Subrmanian,

      Could you please your experience as I am on same page where trying to find answers to fill i539a public benefits section for my kid’s (h4 dep) extension who is currently under special education program called IEP at school in Tennessee. I think it also comes under IDEA but not sure about it.

      Please, Thanks

      Reply
  12. To fill I-539 for H-1B, H4 & H4 EAD extensions, Can I choose :
    “No, I have not received any of the above public benefits”

    and not worry about the below option for certification?

    “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits”

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Kunal,
      You need to check only one, no need to check both. That applies only in case, you are eligible, but not certified to receive benefits.

      Reply
  13. HI,
    I have to apply for h4 extension in couple of days.
    The website still shows the old form without public benifits.Do i need to wait for uscis to update with the new one

    Reply
    • Dorothy,
      If you read the update on the top, the rule is blocked by court, so you do not need to use the new form and it is not available as well. Just use the current form on USCIS website.

      Reply
  14. Hi Team,

    Thank you for detailed analysis. I have below question.

    1. How would i know if i am eligible or not ? If i am not at all eligible for this benefits then straight answer would be “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits”

    Let say, I am eligible and check “No, I have not received any of the above public benefits” then it gives an impression that I may take public benefits in future.

    Whats your thoughts on this ? Spouse of an H1B ( H4) is eligible for Public Benefits ? As of my knowledge on internet articles, H4 dependent is not eligible for public benefits.

    https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/table_ovrw_fedprogs/

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Well, you can only state the intent, no one know about future…the assessment is only based on past and not in future.

      In general, most of the H1B, H4 do not use or qualify for most of the benefits, but there maybe few tied to medicaid, health insurance, etc, that may be considered as benefits…Again, I do not have a full list of such things….
      Anyways, now the public charge rule has got injunction order, so nothing to worry much…it is on hold and not going effective.

      Reply
      • Kumar,

        Thanks Much. So after the conversation for public benefits with Baba to fill I-539, Hope I can still go with the option of choosing “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits” and I do not worry about the below option for certification right?
        “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits”

        Reply
        • Ignore my Previous comment, I meant below

          So after the conversation for public benefits with Baba to fill I-539, Hope I can still go with the option of choosing
          “No, I have not received any of the above public benefits”

          and I do not worry about the below option for certification right?

          “No, I am not certified to receive any of the above listed public benefits”

          Reply
          • Yes, that’s right, do not worry about the certification….Anyways, now it is immaterial as there is injunction…
            To be clear, now that there is injunction, you should NOT use the new form with public benefits info, you should use the previous I-539 form.

  15. In these days get a boat and sail through to America for Environmental issues demonstrator. Show your sympathy to the world at U.N Building 42nd & 1st Ave NY NY just like Europen’s doing it.

    Reply
  16. How are you? I am Waqar Ahmed. From Pakistan. I am plumber and plumbing instructor. I have 11 years experience. I need visa.I am very interested work in your country. But I have no any sources for visa.I have all documents passport and other documents..

    Reply
    • I am not an expert in your area, cannot advice. If your qualification/ experience falls under speciality occupation, you may…for requirements check : https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

      Reply

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