Following the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) lead, the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”), which oversees consular processing for immigrant and non-immigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, has implemented its new public charge rule as of February 24, 2020.

Immigrant visa applicants will be required to complete a Form DS-5540 Public Charge Questionnaire to review the incoming immigrant’s household size and income, assets, liabilities, education, job skills, health, and receipt of past public benefits. The new regulation applies to all intending immigrants regardless of when the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application was submitted to the National Visa Center and forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate.

Similar to the DHS’s public charge rule denying adjustment of status to those who have been determined to or are likely to become a public charge, the DOS rule states that anyone who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible and consequently ineligible to receive an immigrant visa. DOS defines “public charge” to mean an applicant who has received one or more defined public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate 36 month period, or who may be likely to receive such public benefits after immigrating. Public benefits include Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 Housing, Subsidized Public Housing, and Medicaid.

The DS-5540 will be used to evaluate the ability of the applicant to support him or herself after immigrating to the United States and thus not rely on future public benefits.

For more information on DOS public charge rule, contact and schedule a consultation session with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.