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On Friday, September 18, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a lower court did not have the authority to enjoin the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing its public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic. This ruling is pursuant to a recent Supreme Court decision that DHS may enforce the rule while lawsuits against the DHS public charge rule are ongoing.

On July 29, 2020, a New York federal district court barred DHS from enforcing the rule during the COVID-19 emergency, and days later, the Second Circuit restricted the injunction to Connecticut, New York, and Vermont while the lawsuit against DHS was ongoing. Shortly afterward, DHS requested the Second Circuit to stay the limited injunction, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling that DHS is allowed to enforce the public charge rule during the time that the lawsuit, New York et al. v. Department of Homeland Security, is pending.

What this means is that USCIS is expected to provide instructions requiring applicants and petitioners to comply with the public charge rule when filing Form I-485, Applications for Adjustment of Status as well as nonimmigrant applications to change or extend nonimmigrant status (I-129 and I-539/I-539A). USCIS is expected to resume the requirement of the filing of the I-944 as well as submission of detailed personal and financial information when filing Form I-485, unless otherwise exempt.

Further, it is expected that USCIS will provide information on public charge compliance for cases that were filed while the rule was enjoined.