New I-539 form with Public Benefits Info

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

In H4 Visa by KumarUpdated : 12 Comments

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 : On October 11th, 2019 Courts have blocked the Public Charge Rule going into effect. There is a nationwide injunction order that blocks implementing of the public charge rule. You can read Public Charge Rule Blocked – Official Court Orders, Summary

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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Comments ( 12 )

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      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.

  1. Baba

    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!!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      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.

      1. Sunil

        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”

        1. Sunil

          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”

          1. administrator
            Kumar

            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.

  2. Aamir Khan

    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.

  3. waqar Ahmed

    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..

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      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

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