\ fr \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) \ Federal Register Publications (Legacy INS) - 1999 \ FEDERAL REGISTER PROPOSED REGULATIONS - 1999 \ Inadmissibility and Deportability on Public Charge Grounds [64 FR 28676] [FR 26-99]
Inadmissibility and Deportability on Public Charge Grounds [64 FR 28676] [FR 26-99]
FEDERAL REGISTER CITE:
64 FR 28676
DATE OF PUBLICATION:
May 26, 1999
BILLING CODE 4410-10
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Immigration and Naturalization Service
8 CFR Parts 212 and 237
[INS No. 1989-99; AG Order No. 2225-99]
Inadmissibility and Deportability on Public Charge Grounds
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.
This rule proposes to amend the Department of Justice's
(Department's) regulations to establish clear standards governing a determination that an alien is inadmissible or ineligible to adjust status, or has become deportable, on public charge grounds. This proposed rule is necessary to alleviate growing public confusion over the meaning of the currently undefined term "public charge" in immigration law and its relationship to the receipt of Federal, State, or local public benefits. By defining "public charge," the Department seeks to reduce the negative public h
ealth consequences generated by the existing confusion and to provide aliens with better guidance as to the types of public benefits that will and will not be considered in public charge determinations.
Written comments must be submitted on or before July 26, 1999.
Please submit written comments, in triplicate, to the
Director, Policy Directives and Instructions Branch, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street, NW, Room 5307, Washington, DC 20536. To ensure proper handling, please reference INS No. 1989-99 on your correspondence. Comments are available for public inspection at the above address by calling (202) 514-3048 to arrange an appointment.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sophia Cox or Kevin Cummings,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, Office of Adjudications, 425 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20536; telephone (202) 514-4754.
Background and Necessity for Definition of "Public Charge"
Recent immigration and welfare reform laws have generated considerable public confusion about whether the receipt of Federal, State, or local public benefits for which an alien may be eligible renders him or her a "public charge" under the immigration statutes governing admissibility, adjustment of status, and deportation. (See 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4); 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(5).) (See also Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Pub. L. 104-208, Div. C, Title V, 110 Stat. 3009-67
0 (codified as amended in different sections of 8 U.S.C.) (1996); Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), Pub. L. 104-193, Title IV, 110 Stat. 2260 (codified as amended generally at 8 U.S.C.1601, et seq.) (1996).)
Under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act), the determination of whether an individual alien "is likely at any time to become a public charge" is made by a Department of State consular officer at the time the alien's visa application is adjudicated overseas, by an Immigration and Naturalization Service (Service) officer at the time an alien seeks admission into the United States, or by the Service at the time an alien applies for adjustment of status if he or she is already in
the United States. 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4). The statute further states that the decision shall be "in the opinion of" the consular officer or the Attorney General, who has delegated this authority to the Service. Id.; 8 CFR part 2.1. Under section 237(a)(5) of the Act, an alien is also deportable if he or she "has become a public charge" within 5 years after his or her "date of entry" into the United States for causes not shown to have arisen since entry. 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(5). An immigration judge will make the
determination if any of these issues arise during removal proceedings for an alien.
On August 22, 1996, the President signed PRWORA, known as the welfare reform law. The welfare reform law and its amendments imposed new restrictions on the eligibility of aliens, whether present in the United States legally or illegally, for many Federal, State, and local public benefits. 8 U.S.C. 1601-1646 (as amended). Despite these new restrictions, many legal aliens remain eligible for at least some forms of public assistance, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), among other benefits. Congress also chose not to apply the alien eligibility restrictions in the welfare reform law to emergency medical assistance; short-term, in-kind, non-cash emergency disaster relief; public health assistance related to immunizations and to treatment of the symptoms of a communicable disease; certain in-kind service
s (e.g., soup kitchens, etc.) designated by the Attorney General as necessary for the protection of life and safety; and assistance under certain Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs. 8 U.S.C. 1611(b)(1).
Numerous states and localities also have funded public benefits, particularly medical and nutrition benefits, for aliens who are now ineligible for certain Federal public benefits. Congress further authorized states to enact laws after August 22, 1996, that affirmatively provide illegal aliens who would otherwise be ineligible for certain State and local benefits under the welfare reform law with such benefits. 8 U.S.C. 1621(d). A complete overview of all the public benefits and programs that remain availab
le to various categories of aliens under the welfare reform law, as amended, is beyond the scope of this discussion.
Although Congress has determined that certain aliens remain eligible for some forms of medical, nutrition, and child care services, and other public assistance, numerous legal immigrants and other aliens are choosing not to apply for these benefits because they fear the negative immigration consequences of potentially being deemed a "public charge." This tension between the immigration and welfare laws is exacerbated by the fact that "public charge" has never been defined in statute or regulation. Without a
clear definition of the term, aliens have no way of knowing which benefits they may safely access without risking deportation or inadmissibility.
Additionally, the Service has been contacted by many State and local officials, Members of Congress, immigrant assistance organizations, and health care providers who are unable to give reliable guidance to their constituents and clients on this issue. According to Federal and State benefit-granting agencies, this growing confusion is creating significant, negative public health consequences across the country. This situation is becoming particularly acute with respect to the provision of emergency and othe
r medical assistance, children's immunizations, and basic nutrition programs, as well as the treatment of communicable diseases. Immigrants' fears of obtaining these necessary medical and other benefits are not only causing them considerable harm, but are also jeopardizing the general public. For example, infectious diseases may spread as the numbers of immigrants who decline immunization services increase. Concern over the public charge issue is further preventing aliens from applying for available supplem
ental benefits, such as child care and transportation vouchers, that are designed to aid individuals in gaining and maintaining employment. In short, the absence of a clear public charge definition is undermining the Government's policies of increasing access to health care and helping people to become self-sufficient. The Department seeks to remedy this problem with this proposed rule.
Overview of the Proposed Rule
First, the proposed rule provides a definition for the ambiguous statutory term "public charge" that will be used for purposes of both admissibility and adjustment of status under section 212(a)(4) of the Act and for deportation under section 237(a)(5) of the Act. Second, the proposed rule describes the kinds of public benefits that, if received, could result in a finding that a person is a "public charge." The proposed rule also provides examples of the types of public benefits that will not be considered
in public charge determinations. Third, the proposed rule adopts long-standing principles developed by the case law. As discussed below, the cases have established prerequisites and factors to be considered in making public charge determinations. The rule makes clear that the mere receipt of public assistance, by itself, will not lead to a public charge finding without satisfaction of these additional legal requirements.
The Meaning of "Public Charge" and Public Benefits That
Demonstrate Primary Dependence on the Government for Subsistence
Following extensive consultation with benefit-granting agencies, the Department is proposing to define "public charge" to mean an alien who has become (for deportation purposes) or who is likely to become (for admission or adjustment purposes) "primarily dependent on the Government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense." Institutionalization for short periods of rehabilitation d
oes not constitute such primary dependence. This interpretation of "public charge" is reasonable because it is based on the plain meaning of the word "charge," the historical context of public dependency when the public charge immigration provisions were first enacted more than a century ago, and the expertise of the benefit-granting agencies that deal with subsistence issues. It is also consistent with factual situations presented in the public charge case law.
When a word is not defined by statute and legislative history does not provide clear guidance, courts often construe it in accordance with its ordinary or natural meaning as contained in the dictionary. (See, e.g., Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 130 F.3d 893, 898 (10th Cir. 1997), cert. granted, 119 S. Ct. 790 (1999) (citations omitted).) The word "charge" has many meanings in the dictionary, but the one that can be applied unambiguously to a person and best clarifies the phrase "become a public charge"
is "a person or thing committed or entrusted to the care, custody, management, or support of another." Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language 377 (1986). The dictionary gives the following apt sentence as an example of usage: "[H]e entered the poorhouse, becoming a county charge." Id. (See also 3 Oxford English Dictionary 36 (2d ed. 1989) (definition #13 for "charge"--"The duty or responsibility of taking care of (a person or thing); care, custody, superintendence").)
This language indicates that a person becomes a public charge when he or she is committed to the care, custody, management, or support of the public. The dictionary definition suggests a complete, or nearly complete, dependence on the Government rather than the mere receipt of some lesser level of financial support. Historically, individuals who became dependent on the Government were institutionalized in asylums or placed in "almshouses" for the poor long before the array of limited-purpose public benefits
now available existed. This primary dependence model of public assistance was the backdrop against which the "public charge" concept in immigration law developed in the late 1800s.
Although no case has specifically identified the types of public benefits that can give rise to a public charge finding, a definition based on primary dependence on the Government is consistent with the facts found in the deportation and admissibility cases. (See, e.g., Matter of C-R-, 7 I. & N. Dec. 124 (BIA 1956) (deportation based on public mental hospital institutionalization); Matter of Harutunian, 14 I. & N. Dec. 583 (R.C., Int. Dec. 1974) (receipt of old age assistance for principal financial support
was an important factor in denying admission).)
The Service has also sought the advice and relied on the expertise of various Federal agencies that administer a wide variety of public benefits. The Service consulted primarily with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The HHS, which administers TANF, Medicaid, CHIP, and many other benefits, has advised that the best evidence of whether an individual is relying primarily on the Government for subsistence is ei
ther the receipt of public cash benefits for income maintenance purposes or institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense. (See letter to INS Commissioner Doris Meissner from HHS Deputy Secretary Kevin Thurm, dated March 25, 1999) (hereinafter "HHS Letter" and appearing in an appendix to this document.) The USDA, which administers Food Stamps, WIC, and other nutrition assistance programs, and SSA, which administers SSI and other programs, and other benefit-granting agencies have concurred wi
th the HHS advice to the Service that receipt of cash assistance for income maintenance is the best evidence of primary dependence on the Government. (See letter to INS Commissioner Doris Meissner from Shirley R. Watkins, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, dated April 15, 1999) (hereinafter "USDA Letter" and appearing in an appendix to this document); letter to Robert L. Bach, INS Executive Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning from Susan M. Daniels, SSA Deputy Commissi
oner for Disability and Income Security Programs, dated May 14, 1999) (hereinafter "SSA Letter" and appearing in an appendix to this document.)
Cash assistance for income maintenance includes (1) SSI, (2) cash TANF (other than certain supplemental cash benefits not defined as "assistance" under TANF rules, as provided in §§ 212.103 and 237.13 of this proposed rule), and (3) State or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called "General Assistance" programs, but which may exist under other names). Acceptance of these forms of public cash assistance is one factor that could be considered in determining whether a person is, or is l
ikely to be, a public charge, provided the additional requirements for deportation or inadmissibility discussed later in this Supplementary Section and in the regulation are also met.
According to HHS and other benefit-granting agencies consulted by the Service, non-cash benefits generally provide supplementary support in the form of vouchers or direct services to support nutrition, health, and living condition needs. (See HHS Letter.) These benefits are often provided to low-income working families to sustain and improve their ability to remain self-sufficient. A few examples of these non-cash benefits that do not directly provide subsistence are Medicaid, Food Stamps, CHIP, and their r
elated State analogues, WIC, housing benefits, transportation vouchers, and certain kinds of special-purpose non-cash benefits provided under the TANF program. These forms of benefits, and others discussed below and in the proposed regulation, will not be considered for public charge purposes. The HHS further stated that "* * * it is extremely unlikely that an individual or family could subsist on a combination of non-cash support benefits or services alone. * * * HHS is unable to conceive of a situation wh
ere an individual, other than someone who permanently resides in a long-term care institution, could support himself or his family solely on non-cash benefits so as to be primarily dependent on the [G]overnment." (See HHS Letter.)
The one exception identified by HHS to the principle that non-cash benefits do not demonstrate primary dependence is the instance where Medicaid or related programs pay for the costs of a person's institutionalization for long-term care (other than imprisonment for conviction of a crime). Such institutionalization costs, therefore, may be considered in public charge determinations. However, the proposed rule makes clear that a short period of institutionalization necessary for rehabilitation purposes does n
ot demonstrate that an individual is, or is likely to become, primarily dependent on the Government for public charge purposes.
This distinction between cash benefits that can lead to primary dependence on the Government and non-cash benefits that do not create such dependence is already applied by the State Department with regard to Food Stamps, a non-cash benefit program. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) for consular officers excludes Food Stamps from public charge admissibility consideration because it is an essentially supplementary benefit that does not make recipients dependent on the Government for subsistence. (See 9 FAM sec
tion 40.41, N.9.1.) The proposed definition of "public charge" is consistent with this existing State Department policy and that agency's recognition that certain supplemental forms of public assistance should not be considered in a public charge determination.
Receipt of Non-cash Public Benefits That do not Demonstrate Primary Dependence on the Government for Subsistence
It has never been Service policy that the receipt of any public service or benefit must be considered for public charge purposes. The nature of the program is important. For instance, attending public schools, taking advantage of school lunch or other supplemental nutrition programs, such as WIC, obtaining immunizations, and receiving public emergency medical care typically do not make a person inadmissible or deportable. Non-cash benefits, such as these and others, are by their nature supplemental and freq
uently support the general welfare. By focusing on cash assistance for income maintenance, the Service can identify those individuals who are primarily dependent on the Government for subsistence without inhibiting access to non-cash benefits that serve important public interests. Certain Federal, State, and local benefits are increasingly being made available to families with incomes far above the poverty level, reflecting broad public policy decisions about improving general health and nutrition, promotin
g education, and assisting working-poor families in the process of becoming self-sufficient. For example, many states provide CHIP to children in families with resources up to 200 percent of the poverty line and sometimes higher. (See HHS Letter at p. 3.) Thus, participation in such programs is not evidence of poverty or dependence.
The proposed rule identifies the major forms of cash benefits that may be considered for public charge purposes and several examples of non-cash benefits that will not be considered. Due to the ever-changing character of the Federal, State, and local public benefits still available to aliens, it is not possible to name every benefit that will or will not be considered for public charge purposes. Aliens and their advisors should carefully consider the nature of the specific public benefits involved. If they
could be construed as cash assistance for income maintenance, as distinguished from in-kind services, medical or nutrition benefits, vouchers or other forms of non-cash benefits, then a Service officer may consider their receipt in making a public charge decision, even if the benefit is not specifically addressed by name in the proposed rule. Again, receipt of SSI, cash TANF (except supplemental cash-TANF excluded in the rule), and State or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance (e.g., "Gener
al Assistance") will be considered as part of the public charge analysis. Although these benefits are the only examples of "cash assistance for income maintenance" that the Service and other Federal benefit-granting agencies have been able to identify, public comment is requested on whether there are any other specific forms of public cash assistance for income maintenance that should be mentioned. The Service will also consider public benefits (including Medicaid) for supporting aliens who reside in an in
stitution for long-term care (e.g., a nursing home or mental health institution).
A person's mere receipt of any of these forms of cash assistance for income maintenance, or being institutionalized for long-term care, does not necessarily make him or her inadmissible, ineligible to adjust status, or deportable on public charge grounds. As discussed in detail in the next part of this Supplementary Information section, the law requires that a variety of other factors and prerequisites must be considered as well. These additional requirements have been carefully described in both the admiss
ibility and deportation sections of this proposed rule at §§ 212.104, 212.106, 212.108, 212.109, 237.11, 237.15, 237.16, and 237.18. Every public charge decision will continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the proposed rule does not create any blanket requirements that individuals who receive public cash assistance or who are institutionalized for long-term care must be removed from the United States or denied admission or adjustment.
Some cash benefits received by aliens from the Government are not intended for income maintenance, and thus will not be considered for public charge purposes under this rule. Examples of such special-purpose cash benefits that do not lead to primary dependence on the Government include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), 42 U.S.C. 8621, et seq.; the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (CCDBGP), 42 U.S.C. 9858 et seq.; Food Stamp benefits issued in cash (see e.g., 7 U.S.C. 2026
(b)); certain educational assistance programs, and non-recurrent, short-term crisis benefits funded in cash by TANF but excluded from the TANF program's definition of "assistance." (See 64 FR 17720, 17880 (April 12, 1999) (codified at 45 CFR 260.31).) In addition, and consistent with existing Service practice, the proposed rule states that cash payments that have been earned, such as benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 401 et seq., Government pensions, veterans' benefits, among oth
er forms of earned benefits, do not support a public charge finding.
Other non-cash public benefits that will not be considered and that are listed in the proposed rule include, but are not limited to: Medicaid; CHIP; emergency medical assistance; other health insurance and health services for the testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases; emergency disaster relief; nutrition programs, such as Food Stamps and WIC; housing benefits; energy benefits; job training programs; child care; and non-cash benefits funded under the TANF program. State and local non-cas
h benefits of a similar nature also will not be considered. It is the underlying nature of the program, not the name adopted in a particular State, that will determine whether it is relevant for public charge consideration.
Additional Requirements for Public Charge Determinations
After defining "public charge," the separate admissibility and deportation sections of the proposed rule incorporate principles established by case law and statute for each of those public charge determinations.
Admission and Adjustment of Status
The provisions that relate to admission and adjustment of status incorporate the "totality of the circumstances" analysis that officers must employ in making a prospective public charge decision. (See, e.g, Matter of Perez, 15 I. & N. Dec. 136, 137 (BIA 1974).) Under section 212(a)(4)(B) of the Act, officers are required to consider specific minimum factors in determining whether the alien's circumstances indicate that he or she is likely to become a public charge. These factors include the alien's age, he
alth, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor, other than the lack of an Affidavit of Support as described below, will determine whether an alien is likely to become a public charge, including past or current receipt of public cash benefits.
In addition, most aliens intending to immigrate or adjust status in family-based and certain employment-based categories after December 19, 1997, are required to file the new Form I-864, "Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act," signed by their sponsor(s). 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(C-D); 8 U.S.C. 1183a; 8 CFR part 213a.2. The new Affidavit of Support is legally binding and requires sponsors to maintain the sponsored alien at an annual income of not less than 125 percent of the Federal poverty line for
the relevant family size. 8 U.S.C. 1183a(a); 8 CFR part 213a.2. If an Affidavit of Support is not filed, the intending immigrant will be denied admission or adjustment on public charge grounds, unless he or she is exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement under section 212(a)(4)(C-D) of the Act. As one of the circumstances considered in determining whether a person is likely to become a public charge, officers may also consider any Affidavit of Support filed by a sponsor on behalf of an alien under
section 213A of the Act and are encouraged to do so. (See 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(B)(ii).) Certain categories of aliens seeking to become lawful permanent residents are exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement--including those who qualify as widows or widowers of citizens or as battered spouses, and their children. Id.
In one significant respect, a public charge determination for purposes of inadmissibility differs from the context of deportability. As the next section describes in detail, deportation on public charge grounds requires the Service to prove that the alien or another obligated party has failed to repay a legal demand for the public benefits at issue. The proposed rule adopts the case-developed doctrine that this failure-to-reimburse prerequisite for deportation does not apply to public charge decisions for a
dmissibility or adjustment of status. (See Matter of Harutunian, 14 I. & N. Dec. at 589-590.) Applicants for admission or adjustment of status, therefore, could be found inadmissible or ineligible to adjust status on public charge grounds even if there is no duty to reimburse the agency that provides the cash assistance. Again, this receipt of public cash benefits will result in such a finding only if the totality of the alien's circumstances, including the minimum factors in section 212(a)(4)(B) of the Ac
t, indicate that he or she is likely to become a public charge.
The provisions on admissibility and adjustment in the proposed rule conclude with a section that lists categories of aliens to whom the public charge ground contained in section 212(a)(4) of the Act does not apply. These categories include refugees, asylees, Amerasians, and certain Nicaraguans, Central Americans, Haitians, and Cuban/Haitian entrants. Although these statutory exemptions are codified throughout the Act and other laws, the rule collects them in one place for the public's ease of reference.
The provisions on deportation in the proposed rule incorporate the Attorney General's decision in the leading case, Matter of B-, 3 I. & N. Dec. 323 (AG and BIA 1948), that the Service can prove public charge deportability only if there has been a failure to comply with a legally enforceable duty to reimburse the assistance agency for the costs of care. In addition, the benefit agency's demand for repayment of the specific public benefit must have been made within the alien's initial 5-year period after ent
ry, unless it is shown that demand would have been futile because there was no one against whom payment could be enforced. Matter of L-, 6 I. & N. Dec. 349 (BIA 1954). Under the proposed definition for public charge previously discussed, only the failure to meet an agency's demand for repayment of a cash benefit for income maintenance or for the costs of institutionalization for long-term care will be considered for deportation. If the alien can show that the causes for which he or she received one of these
types of public cash benefits during his or her initial 5 years after entry arose after entry, he or she will not be deportable on public charge grounds. (See 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(5).) The requirements and procedures concerning the demand for the repayment of a public benefit are governed by the specific program rules established by law and administered by the benefit granting agencies, or by State or local governments, not by the Service. This rule does not alter those existing procedures. The Service does no
t make determinations about which public benefits must be repaid. The Federal, State, and local benefit-granting agencies are responsible for those decisions. The Service may only initiate removal proceedings based on the public charge ground after the benefit agency has chosen to seek repayment, obtained a final judgment, taken all steps to collect on that judgment, and been unsuccessful.
The proposed rule also provides that the Affidavit of Support is relevant to the public charge inquiry for deportation purposes. Under the new Affidavit of Support rules, if a sponsored alien obtains Federal, State, or local means-tested public benefits, the sponsor is obligated to repay those benefits if the benefit-granting agency makes a demand for repayment. (See 8 U.S.C. 1183a(b); 8 CFR parts 213a.2, 213a.4.) Various Federal agencies have designated certain assistance programs that they administer to b
e "means-tested public benefits." For example, SSI, TANF, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and CHIP have been designated as Federal means-tested public benefits and could give rise to a repayment obligation under the Affidavit of Support. If states designate means-tested public benefits in the future, such benefits also could give rise to such an obligation. However, only demands for the repayment of cash benefits for income maintenance purposes, such as SSI, cash TANF and State General Assistance programs, or the
costs of institutionalization for long-term care, will be relevant for deportation determinations under the proposed definition of "public charge."
The Department has determined that the existing three-part Matter of B- test for public charge deportations also applies to demands for repayment of means-tested benefits under the new Affidavit of Support. The Government entity providing the benefit must have a legal right to seek repayment under the Affidavit of Support; the agency must have made a demand for repayment; and the obligated party or parties must have failed to meet this demand. The rule also requires that, before a deportation action may be
initiated, the agency seeking repayment must have taken all steps necessary to obtain and enforce a final judgment requiring the sponsor or other person responsible for the debt to pay. Without such a requirement, an alien could be wrongly deported as a public charge based on a debt that a court might later determine was not legally enforceable. Although the demand for repayment must be made within 5 years of the alien's admission, there is no time limit on obtaining a final judgment as long as it is obtai
ned prior to the public charge proceedings.
Welfare Reform and Other Significant Factors That Limit Potential
for Aliens to Become "Public Charges"
The proposed rule is not expected to alter substantially the number of aliens who will be found deportable or inadmissible as public charges. Deportations on public charge grounds have always been rare due to the strict Matter of B- requirements that agencies first must demand repayment, assuming they have a legal right to do so, and the obligated party or parties must have failed to pay. This is unlikely to change.
Several recently enacted welfare and immigration reform measures have also contributed to reducing the possibility that aliens will be found likely to become public charges under section 212(a)(4) of the Act. Due to the increased restrictions of the welfare reform law, as amended, many aliens are no longer eligible to receive some public benefits formerly available to them. For example, one significant new restriction prohibits legal, "qualified aliens" from receiving Federal means-tested public benefits, w
ith some exceptions, for 5 years if they arrive after August 22, 1996. 8 U.S.C. 1613. Combined with the 5-year limitation in section 237(a)(5) of the Act, the welfare reform restriction means fewer aliens are likely to become deportable public charges. Under new "deeming" rules, some aliens who might otherwise have been able to obtain certain Federal, State, or local means-tested public benefits can no longer do so because their sponsors' resources may now count as resources available to the aliens (i.e., t
he sponsors' resources are "deemed" available to the alien), which would normally raise the alien's income over the benefit eligibility threshold. 8 U.S.C. 1631, 1632. In addition, the requirement of a legally binding Affidavit of Support obligating sponsors to support their immigrating family members above the poverty level before they will be granted admission or adjustment has significantly raised the bar for people who might, in the past, have entered and become public charges. These new laws work toget
her to limit the potential for immigrants to become dependent on the Government. The proposed rule defining "public charge" will not change or negatively affect the operation of these provisions.
The Department believes that this rule will provide for better overall administration of the public charge provisions of the Act. It will also help alleviate the increasing, negative public health and nutrition consequences caused by the confusion over the meaning of "public charge." The rule will provide rules of decision that will apply in proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), as well as proceedings before the Service. The Department anticipates, based on the Service's co
nsultations, that the State Department will adopt the same view and will issue guidance to consular officers accordingly.
At a later date, the Department plans to propose additional revised sections for part 212 concerning the other grounds of inadmissibility under section 212 of the Act. Sections 212.100 through 212.112 of this proposed rule are being issued in advance as Subpart G. The Department will amend the labeling of this subpart or section numbers, if necessary, at the time of final publication of any revised sections to this part.
Regulatory Flexibility Act
The Attorney General has determined, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 605(b), that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this determination is that this rule will apply to individual aliens, who are not within the definition of small entities established by 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
This rule will not result in the expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year, and it will not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, no actions were deemed necessary under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. 2 U.S.C. 658(7)(A)(ii).
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996
This rule is not a major rule as defined in 5 U.S.C. 804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign-based companies in domestic and export markets.
Executive Order 12866
This rule is considered by the Department of Justice to be a "significant regulatory action" under section 3(f)(4) of E. O. 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review. Accordingly, this proposed rule has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
Executive Order 12612
This rule would not have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, in accordance with E. O. 12612, it is determined that this rule would not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.
Executive Order 12988: Civil Justice Reform
This proposed rule meets the applicable standards set forth in subsections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of E. O. 12988.
Plain Language in Government Writing
The President's June 1, 1998, Memorandum published at 63 FR 31885, concerning Plain Language in Government Writing, applies to this proposed rule.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
This proposed rule does not specifically impose an information collection burden on the public separate from existing provisions of the Act or other regulations. However, the Service anticipates revising the Form I-485, "Application to Register Permanent Status or Adjust Status," as necessary, to make it consistent with the final public charge rule. The Department requests public comment on proposed revisions to the I-485, or any other immigration forms, that may be necessary as a result of this public char
List of Subjects
8 CFR Part 212
Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Admission, Adjustment of status, Public charge determinations.
8 CFR Part 237
Administrative practice and procedure, Aliens, Deportation, Public charge determinations.
Accordingly, chapter I of title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, is proposed to be amended as follows:
PART 212--DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS: NONIMMIGRANTS; WAIVERS;
ADMISSION OF CERTAIN INADMISSIBLE ALIENS; PAROLE
1. The authority citation for part 212 is revised to read as
8 U.S.C. 1101, 1102, 1103, 1182, 1183, 1183a, 1184, 1187, 1225, 1226, 1227, 1228, 1252, 8 CFR part 2, 8 CFR part 213A.
2. Sections 212.1 through 212.15 are designated as Subpart A.
3. The heading for Subpart A is added to read as follows:
4. Part 212 is amended by adding and reserving Subparts B through F.
5. Subpart G is added to read as follows:
Subpart G--Public Charge Inadmissibility
What issues do §§ 212.100 through 212.112 address?
What law governs a determination of whether I am inadmissible on public charge grounds?
What is the meaning of "public charge" for admissibility and adjustment of status purposes?
What specific benefits are considered to be "public cash assistance for income maintenance"?
What factors will make me inadmissible or ineligible to adjust status on public charge grounds?
Are there any forms of public assistance that I can receive without becoming inadmissible as a public charge if I should later apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status?
If I have received public cash assistance for income maintenance, have been institutionalized for long-term care at Government expense, or have been deemed a public charge in the past, will I be inadmissible or ineligible to adjust status on public charge grounds now or in the future?
Will I be required to pay back any public benefits that I have received before an immigration officer or immigration judge will find me admissible or eligible to adjust status?
Are there any special requirements for aliens who are seeking to immigrate based on a family relationship or on employment?
Will I be considered likely to become a public charge because my spouse, parent, child, or other relative has become, or is likely to become, a public charge or has received public cash assistance?
Are there any individuals to whom the public charge ground of inadmissibility does not apply?
Are there any waivers for the public charge ground of inadmissibility?
Is it possible to provide a bond or cash deposit to ensure that I will not become a public charge?
Subpart G--Public Charge Inadmissibility
§ 212.100 What issues do §§ 212.100 through 212.112 address?
(a) Sections 212.100 through 212.112 of this part address the public charge grounds of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the Act. It applies to all aliens seeking admission to the United States or adjustment of status to lawful permanent residency, except for the categories of aliens described in § 212.110 or other categories of aliens who may be exempted by law.
(b) In §§ 212.101 through 212.112 of this part, the terms "I," "me" and "my" in the section headings and "you" and "your" in the text of each section refer to an alien who may be inadmissible or ineligible to adjust status on public charge grounds.
§ 212.101 What law governs a determination of whether I am
inadmissible on public charge grounds?
The public charge grounds of inadmissibility are found under section 212(a)(4) of the Act. A Department of State (State Department) consular officer makes the public charge determination if you are applying for a visa overseas. A Service officer makes the public charge determination if you are applying for admission at a port-of-entry to the United States or for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident. Under section 212(a)(4) of the Act, you will be found inadmissible or ineligible to ad
just status if, "in the opinion of" the consular officer or Service officer making the decision, you are considered "likely at any time to become a public charge." If you have been placed in removal proceedings where issues of your admissibility or eligibility to adjust status arise, an immigration judge will decide whether you are likely to become a public charge.
\ fr \ Federal Register Publications (CIS, ICE, CBP) \ Federal Register Publications (Legacy INS) - 1999 \ FEDERAL REGISTER PROPOSED REGULATIONS - 1999 \ Inadmissibility and Deportability on Public Charge Grounds [64 FR 28676] [FR 26-99]