A group of green card applicants and immigration advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday challenging the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) implementation of the public charge rule.

Key points:

  • The suit alleges that USCIS implemented the public charge regulation by issuing guidance to USCIS officers that exceeds the regulation itself and the Immigration and Nationality Act with the aim of disqualifying all but the wealthiest of applicants from obtaining permanent residency.
  • The suit also claims that the new 18-page Form I-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) requires applicants to furnish large volumes of information not contemplated by the regulation.
  • The groups have asked the court to overturn the USCIS guidance and Form I-944.

Background: The public charge rule significantly broadens the grounds of inadmissibility for green card applicants on the basis that they may become dependent on government benefits. The rule has been in effect since Feb. 24. Several courts blocked its initial implementation in October 2019, but the Supreme Court lifted those injunctions allowing USCIS to implement the rule while lawsuits proceed in court.

BAL Analysis: This new lawsuit challenges the way USCIS has implemented the rule, alleging that the agency improperly set a presumption of inadmissibility, raised the burden of proof from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clearly and beyond a doubt,” and makes the lack of health insurance a negative factor even if an applicant has the opportunity to obtain insurance, such as through an upcoming open enrollment period. BAL is monitoring litigation over the public charge rule and will continue to provide updates as the cases progress.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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