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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York blocked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing the new public charge rule that was established by President Trump during the emergence of the pandemic.

The injunction immediately took effect on July 29, 2020. The duration of the injunction is limited to the period during which there is a declaration of a national health emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak. A national health emergency was declared on January 27, 2020, and that declaration is still in effect.

The original public charge rule was communicated by DHS on August 14, 2019, and went into effect on February 24, 2020. It was established by DHS to determine if an alien receives public benefits for more than a year within a total period of 36 months. The rule applied to those individuals who received public benefits on or after February 24, 2020. Applicants have been required to submit form I-944 after the rule went into effect. I-944 requires applicants to submit additional documentation such as the use of public benefits, education level, credit history, health insurance, household income, and debts, among others.

As of July 29, 2020, DHS was blocked by the federal court from applying the public charge rule nationwide. Any applications submitted on or after July 29, 2020, or any period of a national health emergency due to COVID-19, will not have the requirement to include Form I-944. The public charge rule scared many immigrants from getting tested for COVID-19 and obtaining necessary treatment for illnesses. The Court’s ruling applies as long as the COVID-19 pandemic national health emergency remains in effect. If you have any questions regarding public benefits or the public charge rule, please schedule a consultation by calling our office.

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