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Trump’s Public Charge “Wealth Test” has been canceled!

Big immigration news today is that former president Trump’s crazy Wealth Test and Public Charge Rule (called I-944 Declaration of Self-sufficiency) has been canceled!

The Affidavit of Support requires the petitioner/sponsor for family immigration to prove that they can support the immigrant they are bringing into US and requirements for medical insurance for that immigrant are still in force and will remain so. But the I-944 is gone!
Immigrants and immigrant attorneys are celebrating.

American Immigration Lawyer Association (“AILA”) wrote in their press release today: On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, the Biden administration ended the attempt started in 2019 by then-President Trump to bar immigrants by way of a “wealth test” known as the public charge rule.

The news was met with relief and welcome by those seeking lawful permanent residence, their sponsors, and immigrant and civil rights groups, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA.) AILA had joined litigation against the USCIS’ Policy Manual and form changes implementing the public charge rule which contained a complex and contradictory set of rules and invasive information disclosures designed to prevent immigrants from becoming lawful permanent residents. The law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (“Morgan Lewis”) served as pro bono co-counsel on that lawsuit.

Jesse Bless, Director of Federal Litigation for AILA stated, “In my private life as an attorney I have seen, first-hand, the anxiety and severe fear that the public charge rule has caused to many families. In my role at AILA, I have also witnessed the confusion it instilled in brilliant attorneys struggling to advise their clients regarding the public charge rule and its implications. I am grateful for everyone who collectively fought to see the battle against this unjust rule through to victory.”

Eleanor Pelta, past AILA president and partner at Morgan Lewis, stated, “Sadly, the public charge regulation caused immigrants of all statuses to forego health care and vital economic support out of fear of jeopardizing their ability to apply for lawful permanent status. Mothers and fathers shied away from the assistance that their families were eligible for because of this rule, adding additional stress and concern during a pandemic and economic downturn. It is an immense relief that the Biden administration has seen the harm done and stopped fighting this irrational battle.”

This is a big change in the family unification immigration legal system. The cancellation of the I-944 simplifies the process of filing for a green card through a family petition. In my experience, since Form I944 and its requirements were instituted everyone struggled with it – from USCIS officers who had to make decisions on how to adjudicate it, to clients and lawyers who had a hard time collecting the documents for the immigrants filing for benefits (IRS transcripts, credit reports for people who never had a social security number nor any credit history, and similar).

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