DHS Releases Final Rule Updating Basis For Public Charge Inadmissability

The U.S.’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a final rule, which will be released in the Federal Register, that clarifies and uniformly applies DHS’s management of the public charge basis of inadmissibility for non-citizens. The rule amends actions that the Trump Administration made to identify supplemental public health benefits like Medicaid and nutritional assistance as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination and corrects the historical understanding of a “public charge” that had been recognized for previous decades. According to the DHS’s press release, the rule is a reflection of the Biden Administration’s commitment to restore faith in the United States legal system. 

In a statement made by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra provides clarity on the intentions of the rule. “People who qualify for Medicaid, CHIP and other health programs should receive the care they need without fear of jeopardizing their immigration status.” The DHS website defines an individual who is likely to become a ‘public charge’ as a noncitizen who is likely to “become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be denied admission or lawful permanent residence”. Before the Trump Administration, Nearly all non-cash government benefits, including Medicaid and nutrition assistance, were disregarded The 2019 regulation, which was ultimately overturned, caused a decline in participation in these programs among those who are not prevented from entering due to public charges, such as American citizen children living in mixed-status families.Under the new rule, which was the case for two decades, a noncitizen would be identified as a ‘public charge’ based on their age, health, family status, assets,education, and financial skills. 

This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” stated Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “Consistent with America’s bedrock values, we will not penalize individuals for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them.”

The rule has been in effect since December 23, 2022. However, the rule was finally officially published on the Federal Register on September 9, 2022. The DHS has stated that they are committed to implementing further modifications to make public charge assessments consistent with the statute and the 1999 interim Field Guidance.