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  • Washington Highlights

    DHS Finalizes Amended Public Charge Rule


    Phoebe Ramsey, Director, Physician Payment & Quality
    For Media Inquiries

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule for “Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility” on Sept. 9. The rule amends and clarifies the criteria by which the DHS will determine whether a noncitizen can be admitted to the United States and whether a noncitizen who is legally in the country should be able to change their immigration status to become a permanent resident under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA, P.L. 89-236). The final rule is effective Dec. 23 and will apply to applications postmarked on or after the effective date.

    The final rule establishes a narrow view of the criteria to be considered when determining noncitizens who are deemed likely to become a public charge. Under this rule, the DHS “would determine that a noncitizen is likely at any time to become a public charge if the noncitizen is likely at any time to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term institutionalization at government expense.” The AAMC commented on the proposed rulemaking, supporting the department’s efforts to narrowly define the public charge ground of inadmissibility consistent with congressional intent and historical understanding [refer to Washington Highlights, Apr. 29].

    “This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in an accompanying press release. “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.”

    In announcing the final rule, the DHS noted its intent to develop updates to its policy manual to help Customs and Immigration Services officers “apply the regulation fairly and consistently and to better inform the public on rule implementation.” The department also stated that it will conduct public outreach and engagement to reduce confusion and to “minimize chilling effects” among both citizens and noncitizens.