Immigration Status & Public Charge


On March 9, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the end to the 2019 public charge rule.

Last-reviewed: 11am, Sept. 21, 2021

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • USCIS field offices and asylum offices have reopened. Visitors must follow this policy. Naturalization ceremonies have also resumed.
  • Boston Immigration Court reopened for all matters. Case information is available online with a 9-digit alien registration number (A-#########) or by calling the Executive Office of Administration Review at 1-800-898-7180.
  • On March 9, 2021, DHS announced the end to the 2019 public charge rule in a statement to the public. As a result, the 1999 interim field guidance on public charge will now be in effect (the policy that was in place prior to the 2019 public charge rule). As a result, the items on this non exhaustive list are no longer considered public charge:
    • SNAP (food stamps)
    • MassHealth/Medicaid (except for long-term institutionalization)
    • Public housing
    • Section 8
  • On April 27, 2021, DHS announced that they will not make arrests in or near courthouses unless:
    • It involves a national security threat; or
    • There is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person; or
    • It involves hot pursuit of a person who poses a threat to public safety; or
    • There is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to a criminal case.
  • On May 22, 2021, DHS announced a new 18-month designation of Haiti for Temporary protected Status (TPS). Noncitizens must be currently residing in the US as of May 21, 2021 and meet other requirements. Haitians who are eligible may apply from August 3, 2021, through February 3, 2023.
  • Effective September 4, 2021, Yemen will be granted an 18-month extension for TPS allowing individuals who have been residing in the US since July 5, 2021, to retain TPS status through March 3, 2023. The full announcement be found here.
  • USCIS announced a new policy that will allow persons with pending U visa applications the ability to obtain employment authorization. USCIS has called this process the Bona Fide Determination process – where the application is completed without intention of deceit or fraud – to allow applications to support themselves while they pursuit justice.
  • On February 1, 2021, DHS put out a statement ensuring the public that all individuals living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. DHS has stated that it will not conduct enforcement operations at or near vaccination distribution sites or clinics.
  • On July 16, 2021, a federal judge held that DACA is illegal. DHS will continue to accept the filing of both initial and renewal DACA requests with accompanying requests for employment authorization, but DHS prohibited from granting initial DACA requests and accompanying requests for employment authorization. More information and application forms can be found on the USCIS website.
  • DHS announced that they are extending the validity of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)-related documentations for beneficiaries for six countries through December 31, 2022, including employment-related documentation.

The Breakdown

  • The RIAN Center has canceled all in-person immigration clinics. Apply for a free legal consultation by calling 617-542-7654.
  • The US will not allow entry to foreign nationals from several countries around the world. As a result, many may find it difficult to enter the country, or may find it difficult to re-enter upon leaving.
  • Penn State Law has put together a resource list for Afghan Nationals seeking legal help or support services. More information can be found here.
  • The Higher Ed Immigration Portal is a new website aimed at providing resources to immigrant students. The website provides information related to financial assistance for undocumented students. It also provides other information that may be helpful while navigating the education system as an immigrant. 

The Bottom Line

  • These changes make an uncertain time even more uncertain for immigrant populations. Families with questions about public charge should connect with immigration experts to have their specific questions and needs evaluated.