UPDATED ALERT: New I-129 Must Be Used Starting October 15, 2019 - (10/10/19)
**UPDATE** On October 11 and 14, 2019, judges in eight separate cases before U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of New York (PDF), Northern District of California (PDF), Eastern District of Washington (PDF), Northern District of Illinois, and District of Maryland enjoined DHS from implementing and enforcing the final rule related to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The effective date of the final rule is postponed until there is final resolution in the cases, so until final decisions in these cases are issued or the injunction is lifted, USCIS will accept this version of the Form I-129 (dated 1/31/19 in the lower left).
It is still unclear whether or not a similar Department of State policy will go into effect, despite these injunctions. More information to come.
Corresponding with a new rule regarding non-U.S. citizens accessing public benefits in the U.S., USCIS has just a new form I-129 that contains a section relating to beneficiaries receiving, or being certified to receive, public benefits. While this section – a new Part 6 – only needs to be completed by petitioners seeking an extension of stay or change of status for a beneficiary, all petitioners need to use this latest form (edition 10/15/19, expiring 10/31/2021). Any petition postmarked on or after October 15, 2019 will be rejected if this latest form that contains the Public Benefits section is not used.
For petitioners seeking an extension of stay or change of status, the new condition is that the beneficiary cannot have received, or been certified to receive, one or more public benefit for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period. If two benefits were received in one month, that counts as 2 months. If public benefits have been received intermittently throughout the year, each instance should be listed separately. For example, if the beneficiary received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from January to February and June to December, those two instances with their distinct periods should be listed separately. In the event additional space is needed, petitioners should use the Part 10. Additional Information page. Note that there are documentation requirements, which can be found on page 10 of the I-129 instructions. Also, there are certain categories of individuals for whom receipt of benefits will not be considered (meaning they are exempt from this condition) – however, Part 6 still needs to be completed if seeking an extension of stay or change of status, and then evidence provided that documents the beneficiary qualifies for the exclusion from this rule. See page 9 of the new I-129 instructions for more details.
Only public benefits received by the beneficiary on or after October 15, 2019 need to be reported. Petitioners filing the I-129 for other action than extension of stay or change of status – for example those seeking new employment, concurrent employment, amended stay – can skip Part 6 about Public Benefits but must still use this new form for petitions postmarked on or after October 15, 2019.