Judge writing on clipboard.

Appellate court narrows nationwide injunction, allows ‘public charge’ rule to be implemented in most states

A federal appellate court ruled Wednesday that the “public charge” rule can once again be implemented in most states.

U.S. Circuit Judge Peter W. Hall narrowed a temporary nationwide injunction blocking the “public charge” rule to only apply in New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The Trump administration can continue the policy in all other locations.

Hall did not provide reasoning for his decision while issuing the order.

Multiple federal judges blocked the “public charge” rule late last year, but the Supreme Court lifted those temporary injunctions while those legal challenges continued.

USCIS then implemented in late February extensive regulations for determining whether a foreign national would be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. based upon the likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future.

However, a federal judge in New York again temporarily blocked the policy nationwide in late July during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, an order that was then narrowed by Hall’s ruling.

USCIS guidance specifies that the following benefits may be considered as part of a “public charge” determination:

  • Any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Federal, state or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance” in the state context, but which may exist under other names)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or formerly called “Food Stamps”)
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation)
  • Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq.
  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions)

The mere receipt of these benefits does not automatically make an individual inadmissible, ineligible to adjust status to lawful permanent residency or deportable on public charge grounds, as each determination is made on a case-by-case basis in the context of the totality of the circumstances.


Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm continues to monitor the situation closely and will alert clients as the situation evolves.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm at 704-442-8000 or via email with any questions.

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