On January 30, 2020, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that on February 24, 2020 it will begin implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (the “Public Charge Rule”), except in Illinois, where the rule remains enjoined by a federal court.

The Public Charge Rule goes into effect on February 24, 2020, meaning that the Public Charge Rule will be applicable only to applications and petitions postmarked on or after February 24, 2020. This means that when considering whether an individual will likely become a public charge in the future, USCIS will not consider an individual’s application for, certification or approval to receive, or receipt of certain non-cash public benefits before February 24, 2020. On February 3, 2020, USCIS will be issuing updated forms, submission instructions, and Policy Manual guidance with more details on the implementation of the Public Charge Rule.

Keep in mind that this is a new rule and we do not yet know how all of its provisions will be interpreted by the courts. What should you do now? If you are an intending immigrant and are in the process of preparing an application or petition, or think you are eligible for an immigration benefit, you should take action now by submitting your application or petition, or seeking the assistance of an immigration attorney, prior to February 24, 2020, the effective date of the Public Charge Rule.

Marie E. Wood, Esq., is an associate attorney with Reid & Hellyer, APC, where she practices immigration law as well as business and real estate litigation. She is an advisor to the California Lawyers Association, Real Property Law Section Executive Committee, a founding and board member of the Hispanic Bar Association of the Inland Empire, a board member of the Southwest Riverside County Bar Association, and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Southwest Inn of Court, Riverside County Bar Association, and North County Bar Association.

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