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USCIS Updates Its Form I-485 to Comply With New Public Charge Rule

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

What is Form I-485 or Adjustment of Status?

When a foreign national applies for an adjustment of status (AOS) to that lawful permanent resident (or green card holder) within the U.S., the form typically used is Form I-485, in combination with others as applicable.

New Public Charge Rule Determination

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) must determine whether that applicant is inadmissible on the grounds of being “likely at any time to become a public charge” unless exempt from this rule. See USCIS Public Charge Resources. A public charge determination is based on someone’s likelihood of becoming primarily dependent on the U.S. government for subsistence, typically through public cash assistance or long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense. Specifically, USCIS considers an applicant’s receipt of past and/or current public cash assistance including Supplement Security Income (SSI); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and state and local cash assistance programs (General Assistance programs) as well as whether the applicant has been institutionalized in a facility such as a nursing home or mental health institution when making a public charge ground of inadmissibility determination.

USCIS generally does not consider noncash benefits (except institutionalization), or special-purpose cash assistance not intended for income maintenance when making public charge determinations, nor will the agency consider benefits related to COVID-19 relief. Id. If an applicant is found likely to become to be a public charge, USCIS can deny the AOS application.

New Form I-485 just went into effect

On Dec. 23, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility rule went into effect. The new rule applies to any AOS application postmarked on or after that date. Id. The agency will consider factors such as age, health, family status, assets, resources related to financial status, and education and skills when making its determination. See USCIS Public Charge Resources. The updated Form I-485 contains approximately two pages of additional questions related to the applicant’s household size, income, and liabilities as well as the applicant’s education and skills such as certification, licenses, and work experience, etc. Id.

Most nonimmigrants are ineligible for many Public Benefits, so it is generally unlikely an applicant will be “both subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and eligible for these public benefits prior to [the] adjustment of status.” See USCIS Public Charge Resources. However, if applicants have questions on how to properly complete the new Form I-485 they should reach out to their legal representative for assistance.

At Mundo Legal we have the experience to approach your immigration case with confidence. Reach out any time if you are interested in this topic or any other immigration matter.

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