Home » US Immigration - Visas » USCIS Public Charge Rule: Effective Feb 24, New Forms – H1B, H4, L, F

USCIS Public Charge Rule: Effective Feb 24, New Forms – H1B, H4, L, F

As most of you know, the Public Charge Rule was Blocked by courts across the nation last year in multiple courts.  On Jan 30, 2020 Supreme Court gave verdict on the blocked public charge rule, indicating that USCIS can go ahead and implement the Public Charge rule. USCIS announced that the Public Charge rule will be implemented by them from Feb 24th, 2020. In this article, we will cover what it means for everyone, especially for the ones on H1B, H4, L1, L2 and F1 visas and what you can do plan for the same.

Background : What is USCIS Public Charge Rule ? Impact to H1B, H4, F1, L1, L2 Visas ?

Before we jump in to the details, you need to understand what is public  charge rule and how it impacts everyone. If you are not aware of the public charge rule, read the below articles to get an idea. We have covered all the details in below articles.

What does Supreme Court Public Charge Judgement mean ? USCIS Guidance ?

Keeping the legal jargon aside, in simple terms, Supreme court judgment in the ‘Public Charge rule’ means that USCIS is free or cleared to implement the Public Charge rule across the United States, except in Illinois. The injunctions that were put in by multiple courts across the country, do not have any authority to stop the public charge rule from being implemented by USCIS.  Since the judgment, USCIS has given guidance that they will implement the public charge rule, which is officially called as “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds”, from February 24th, 2020.

What does Public Charge Rule effective from Feb 24th, 2020 mean ? New Forms ? Impact ?

Below are the various implications of public charge rule being effective for various visa holders such as H1B, H4, L1, L2 and F1.

  • USCIS Application Decisions: USCIS will apply “Public Charge rule” related new provisions or rules for adjudicating a Green Card, Extension or Change of status Applications submitted to them from Feb 24th, 2020.   
  • Usage of New Editions of Forms: USCIS has released new editions/versions of the forms for I-129, I-485, I-539, and others. All the new forms have public charge related changes added to them.  All these forms are typically used by H1B, H4, L1, L2 and F1 Visa holders for initial applications, extensions, change of status or transfers.  Going forward from Feb 24, 2020, everyone should use the new editions of the forms. The new edition of the form is “01/27/20”.  It is at the bottom of the form and looks like below screenshot. There is a separate section that says “Information About The Beneficiary’s Public Benefits“, where you will need to declare those details, see below screenshot.  Public Benefits Section on I-129 Form with New Edition of 1-27-2020 from USCIS
  • Sending New Forms, Old forms Cut off Date: As per USCIS, any forms that you submit to USCIS that are postmarked Feb 24, 2020 should be with the new editions of the form “01/27/20”.  The post mark date is nothing but the date that is stamped on the courier receipt, when you send it to USCIS. Basically, when you submit the package to courier, they will put a stamp or mark on it with the date, that is the exact date they will consider.  Do not get into a situation of rushing it and sending on the last day with old form and USCIS not accepting it. They will basically reject the old version of the forms, if you submit after that date.
  • Public Benefits Received Date – Feb 24, 2020 : USCIS for adjudicating various applications for public charge determination will not consider any public benefits received by an individual before Feb 24, 2020. In the past this date was October 15th, 2019. But, with the court decision and change in effective date for implementation, this date has also changed. So, do not worry, if you have had any benefits taken in the past, just make sure you get out of them by Feb 24, 2020.
  • Form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency: This is one of the new forms that needs to be filed by anyone filing form I-485, Application to register for Green Card or Adjustment of Status. Check out article What is Form I-944 ? How USCIS Determines Public Charge, Info needed?
  • Additional new forms Form I-945, I-356 : There are also two more new forms Form I-945, Public Charge Bond and Form I-356, Request for Cancellation of Public Charge Bond that were released by USCIS. You will only need to submit these as needed.
  • Exceptions and using Old Forms for Illinois :  All the new forms and Public Charge final rule is not be applicable to Illinois residents at this point of time due to the injunction from US District Court in Illinois.  USCIS will use the applicant’s physical address that is provided in Part 14 of Form I-485 to make the decision on the residence. These applicants do not have to submit any of the new forms such as I-944 as well. They should continue to use the old versions of various forms.  This applies to other forms used by H1B, L1, H4, F1 and L2 visa holders. USCIS has given guidance on where to send application as well. You can read USCIS guidance for Illinois Residents with Public Charge Rule

Summary – Impact of the Public Charge Rule, New Forms, Processing times

While the public charge rule may not have a lot of impact to the High Skilled workers on H1B or L1 visa, in terms of the decision or outcome of the application, but it will have impact on processing times. With additional information that needs to be reviewed by USCIS, they may delay more, and the processing times could get worse. The delays are already very long with the New Biometrics Process for I-539 form and we can see that impact in H4 Biometrics Experiences …they could even get worse…Only time will tell.

What do you think of the Public Charge Rule going into effect ? What about New forms ? Share your thoughts in comments.

References: USCIS Alert – Public Charge Rule, USCIS Alerts – New Forms  


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