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Certain Immigration Applications and Petitions Immediately Subject to Public Charge Final Rule

On February 21, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed an injunction by a lower federal court in Illinois, thereby allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule nationwide, including in Illinois where it had been challenged since October 2019. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has since announced that the final rule’s implementation goes into effect immediately and applies to all related applications and petitions postmarked on or after February 24, 2020.

The Inadmissibility of Public Charge Grounds final rule changes the definitions and standards that DHS uses to determine whether or not a foreign national seeking admission to the U.S. or adjustment of status within the U.S. is likely to become a “public charge” in the future. It also allows DHS to deny extensions of stay and changes of status to nonimmigrants who have received certain public benefits for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period. Examples of such benefits include, but are not limited to, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and most forms of federally funded Medicaid.

Details of the final rule including its applicability, exemptions and the full list of public benefits now considered can be found on the USCIS website, Public Charge page. At UIC, individuals and departments impacted will include those filing USCIS forms I-539/I-539A, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (e.g. F-2, J-2, H-4), I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (e.g. H-1B, O-1) and I-485, Application to Adjust Status (green card application). Foreign nationals applying for visas at U.S. Embassies or Consulates abroad to study, visit or work at UIC will also be subject to additional forms, documentation and screening as a result of the final rule.

The Office of International Services will be updating their forms and processes in response to this final rule and advise the UIC international community and hiring departments accordingly. The decision to utilize or recommend public benefits, even those exempt from public charge consideration, should not be made without full consideration of the possible consequences. OIS Advisors are available for consultation and international students, scholars, employees, and exchange visitors may always seek personal legal advice from a qualified immigration attorney as needed.

As always, the mission of our office is to enhance and support the international dimensions of the University of Illinois Chicago and the medical branches in Peoria and Rockford. If there are any questions or concerns about this announcement, please feel free to contact us at or (312) 996-3121.