The final public charge rule was put into effect on December 23rd, 2022. The following rule brings back the historical meaning of the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility, which refers to the grounds for denying someone a green card, visa, or entry into the United States if it is determined that they would likely become a public charge. In other words, a noncitizen is deemed to become a public charge when they are likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence instead of working hard themselves.
The idea of a “public charge” has been a part of immigration law since the late 18th century, and throughout history it has changed and evolved a number of times. More recently, during former President Donald J. Trump’s administration, the public charge rule was swiftly broadened in order to restrict the number of individuals who qualified for green cards and other visas by redefining what qualified an individual as reliant on government services or as “likely” to become so in the future.
The DHS public charge rule, which applied to individuals seeking green cards within the United States, and the DOS public charge rule, which applied to those outside the country, were the two versions of the regulation that were made public in 2019. The 2019 regulation is no longer in force in any of its two forms. The Biden administration suspended the 2019 DHS regulation in March of 2021, while a court ruling caused the equivalent DOS policy to be suspended permanently at the end of July 2020. The final public charge rule put into action is most similar to the historical understanding of the public charge ground of inadmissibility.