Public Charge Rules Were on Temporary Hold During Pandemic by Federal Court

Manhattan federal court issues two nationwide injunctions temporarily blocking the Trump Administration's "public charge" rules concerning immigrant inadmissibility.


The Trump administration's amended (and stricter) rules concerning who is inadmissible to the U.S. as a likely public charge have caused not only concern among would-be immigrants in the U.S. and abroad regarding their immigration prospects, but fear that seeking health care and related benefits will directly result in a public charge finding.

Immigrant rights' attorneys brought a lawsuit on this very ground. A Manhattan federal court then issued two nationwide injunctions blocking the rules at least temporarily, during the period that the pandemic is considered a national health emergency.

For more of the history of these injunctions, see below. However, in September of 2020, another federal court in the Second Circuit lifted the injunctions; and the U.S. government announced plans to retroactively begin applying its new public charge rules once again.

History: The injunctions were issued against both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS), each of which have written their own, slightly differing set of regulations concerning the definition of a public charge. The court's injunction will prevent these agencies from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the new public charge rule during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Although the Administration itself had issued assurances that use of health care for coronavirus-related purposes would not be considered a negative when weighing the factors considered in a public charge finding, the court found that this was tantamount to an admission that the rules were injurious to people and not crucial to follow.

Effective Date: July 29, 2020