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State Department Seeks Comment on Public Charge Form

The Department of State is accepting comments until Dec. 23 on a proposed questionnaire to enforce its revised public charge standard, according to a recently published information collection notice. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, federal agencies must solicit public comment and receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on proposed information collection requests.

The notice follows an Oct. 11 interim final rule in which the State Department revised the definition of public charge and the public benefits that consular officials consider in evaluating applicants for visas. Consular officials reviewing visa applications will use the information in the new questionnaire to determine the likelihood of an individual becoming a public charge, which is a ground for inadmissibility under immigration law. Applicants for immigration status who live outside of the United States will complete the new questionnaire to provide information on their ability to financially sustain themselves upon entry into the United States. The form includes questions on family status, income, health, health insurance coverage, and the receipt of certain public benefits (including non-emergency Medicaid) after Oct. 15, 2019.

The State Department notice states that once the form is approved, two questions on the form may be used by consular officials to screen applicants who are not subject to the public charge test but are subject to the presidential proclamation suspending the entry of immigrants without health insurance. These questions ask whether the individual will have health insurance coverage or resources to cover reasonably foreseeable medical costs while in the United States.

In a separate Oct. 30 notice of information collection, the State Department sought public comment and emergency OMB review of information to be collected to enforce the presidential proclamation, which takes effect Nov. 3. There was a two-day comment period, with comments due Oct. 31. This notice asked for 180-day approval of the information collection, which will be in the form of verbal questions consular officials will ask visa applicants to determine whether an individual will have health insurance within 30 days of entering the country. The proposed questions request information on applicants’ specific health insurance plan, the date coverage will begin, and other details.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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