Author: NYC Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova
US Public Charge Rule is confusing and complex enough even for a seasoned Immigration practitioner. Public Charge test applies for certain but not all immigration filings/ benefits. For example, VAWA, asylum and refuge seekers are exempt from the public charge test, but most employment and family-based applicants are not. Also not all public benefits would count for the public charge purposes test.
Currently, the test is being used in connection with the adjustment of status filings, filings for extension and change of status and for Immigrant visa filings. Depending on the location of the applicant, the person may have to submit form I 944 (in the US) or form DS5540 (outside the US). Please note that not all the consulates are collecting DS 5540 at this time. Consulates may not even require the form to be submitted as they can ask the applicant at the interview all relevant questions. Dorm DS 5540 cannot be submitted online at this time.
Below you will find an invaluable table composed by the Empire Justice Center that explains in detail which benefits count towards public charge for which immigration filings.