Public Charge Rule No Longer in Effect after Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal

The Supreme Court on March 9 agreed to dismiss litigation on the previous administration’s Public Charge Rule at the request of the Biden administration. The Court had announced on February 22 that it agreed to hear the appeal filed by the previous administration (see Memo, 03/01). However, shortly after Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told justices on March 9 that the defendants and plaintiffs of the relevant cases had agreed that the challenge should be dismissed, the justices agreed, ending a nearly four-year legal battle against this harmful rule (see Memo, 08/19/2019).

The decision allowed the Seventh Circuit to dismiss the appeal of the lower court’s final order. Therefore, the Northern District of Illinois’s final judgment entered on Nov 2, 2020, which vacated the public charge rule nationwide is now in effect (see Memo 11/09/2020).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in a statement that DHS and USCIS will follow the policy in the 1999 Interim Field Guidance, the policy in place before the 2019 rule. Under this policy, DHS will not consider a person’s receipt of Medicaid, public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination. This means it will be safe for immigrants and their families to access health, nutrition, and housing programs that they are eligible for without fear of being considered a “public charge”. USCIS recently updated its website also stating that it will no longer be applying the August 2019 Public Charge Final Rule. Readers are encouraged to access an updated fact sheet “Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know Now” for more information and key messages to share.

The announcement came just weeks after 500 nonprofit organizations affiliated with the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign sent a letter urging President Biden to act quickly. President Biden signed an Executive Order on February 2 directing agencies to identify appropriate actions to address concerns about the public charge policy’s effect on the integrity of the nation’s immigration system and public health, along with recommended steps agencies can take to communicate current public charge policies and proposed changes to reduce fear and confusion among impacted communities. 

“Today’s actions by the Biden administration pave the way for ending Trump’s dangerous and racist public charge wealth test,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in response to the administration’s request to the dismiss litigation. “For the last four years, the National Immigration Law Center and diverse allies across the nation in the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition have fought back against this cruel policy that threatened the health, nutrition, and housing of millions of families. It is dangerous to the health and well-being of our nation, and has impeded our ability to fully recover from the pandemic.”

The preliminary injunction on the DOS Public Charge Rule remains in effect nationwide (see Memo, 08/03).

NLIHC will continue to inform readers of updates to the Public Charge Rule and further actions by the administration to rescind this rule. 

DHS “Statement on Litigation Related to the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility”: 

Read the Joint Stipulation to dismiss filed by the Second, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. 

Read the “Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans” at: 

Read the Executive Order in the Federal Register at:

Protecting Immigrant Families updated “Public Charge: What Advocates Need to Know Now” can be found at: