The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published its public charge final rule on Wednesday, August 14, estimated to affect millions of green card and visa applicants.

What is the public charge rule? The new rule would expand DHS’s ability to deny green cards to immigrants who use or are likely to use public benefit programs, including food stamps, certain housing programs and most forms of Medicaid. Specifically, the new rule defines “public charge” to mean a legal immigrant “who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.”

How will the public charge rule impact the fashion industry? The final rule would apply to international students enrolled in fashion design and other programs that use or are likely to use government benefits. The new rule would also apply to recent international graduates and other immigrants looking to break into the fashion industry who — while taking internships or entry-level positions — may receive public benefits.

When will the new rule become effective? The final rule will take effect on October 15, 2019. Applications and petitions postmarked and accepted by USCIS before October 15 will not be subject to the final rule. Read more on the public charge rule here.

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