Released: January 27, 2020

WASHINGTON—On January 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may legally enforce a long-standing law—section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act—in 49 states except for Illinois that prevents aliens from admittance into the United States if they are likely at any time to become dependent on government programs such as Medicaid or food stamps.

Previously, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction which was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This case eventually moved up to the Supreme Court for their judgment which was ruled in the DHS’ favor. Consequently, the ruling will now allow the DHS to determine whether an alien is inadmissible based on their likelihood of becoming a “public charge” at any time in the future.

Most adjustment applicants will need to provide documents that will determine their likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time. The DHS will require applicants to complete an 18-page declaration of self-sufficiency form and submit further detailed documentation as evidence. This form takes into account many factors such as family size, income, financial liabilities, etc. which results in higher documentation requirements than before.

Those in nonimmigrant status will negatively impact their application if they received certain benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period since acquiring their current status; they must disclose this information if they received or are applicable to receive those benefits.

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