President: Take Action on Public Charge Rule

Regulation | February 03, 2021 | by Linda Couch

On February 2, President Biden issued an Executive Order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, directing his Administration to review federal agency actions on the public charge rule. After much legal action, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowed implementation of this rule, established by the Trump Administration, in September 2020. During his presidential campain, President Biden pledged to reverse the August 2019 public charge rule.

On February 2, President Biden issued an Executive Order, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, directing his Administration to review federal agency actions on the public charge rule. After much legal action, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowed implementation of this rule, established by the Trump Administration, in September 2020. During his presidential campain, President Biden pledged to reverse the August 2019 public charge rule.

Under the public charge rule, applicants for Green cards have to demonstrate they would not be public charges to the United States. The Trump Administration changed the public charge rule’s threshold for determining whether an applicant for admission to the country would be considered a public charge from being “primarily dependent on cash benefits” to whether the individual received “one or more public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two public benefits in one month counts as two months).”

The public charge rule also expanded what qualifies as a “public benefit” to include certain housing assistance programs. LeadingAge submitted comments opposing the public charge rule because it would allow the denial of permanent residency to immigrants legally in the country because they accessed housing assistance, for example.

As part of his presidential campaign platform, President Biden pledged to overturn the Trump Administration’s public charge rule changes. “Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, not just the wealthy,” President Biden’s campaign documents say.

Read the February 2 Executive Order here.