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Updated: Visa Holders in the US at Risk as Public Charge Rules in Limbo

What artists need to know about the suspension of the new public charge rules and maintenance of visa status.

Small wooden blocks stacked in a tower, each one with a symbol representing different aspects of healthcare.
The use of public healthcare and certain other public benefits during the pandemic does not implicate the new ‘public charge’ rules. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Tamizdat – a nonprofit organization for international cultural mobility and exchange, who we have previously consulted with for our US travel advice – notified us of the change in their new advice document.

They explained that visa holders could use public benefits during the pandemic, such as public healthcare:

"In July a federal judge ruled that the use of public healthcare and certain other public benefits during the pandemic does not implicate the new ‘public charge’ rules and that foreign nationals in legal status should not be treated as putting their immigration status at risk by using these benefits during the remainder of the Covid-19 national emergency.”

US Public Charge beset by a setback (update from 3 September 2020)

Further to the news published originally, our colleagues at Tamizdat have informed us of the following: "We write to share the unfortunate news that on August 12th a U.S. federal appeals court limited the scope of a lower federal court's nationwide injunction on the Department of Homeland Security's "new public charge rules."

What happened?

On July 29, 2020, a New York federal court issued an injunction that blocked the U.S. government from enforcing the new “public charge” rules during the COVID-19 national health emergency nationwide. The new public charge rules, implemented in February 2020, made it easier for the government to deny people visas and green cards on the grounds that they might become reliant on public benefits in the U.S. These rules were designed to discourage immigrants and temporary residents from using certain public assistance programs. So the July 29th injunction was good news. 

Then, on August 12th, a higher federal court ruled that the July 29th injunction only applied to applicants in Vermont, Connecticut, and New York. 

What does this new ruling mean?

We don't really know. The Department of Homeland Security/USCIS has not provided updated guidance on the impact of this modified Vermont/Connecticut/New York injunction. Moreover, this modified injunction does not impact the nationwide injunction suspending the implementation of the new public charge rules for Department of State (i.e., the embassies and consulates that issue visas).

Read the full advice document on what artists need to know about the suspension of the new public charge rules and maintenance of visa status.

Find out more about Tamizdat and read further news and advice on their website.

Note: this advisory, dated August 19, 2020, supersedes all prior “public charge” advisories.


Published: 10/09/2020

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