Applying for adjustment of status just became a lot more difficult.
After announcing the nationwide implementation of the final rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” on February 24, 2020, USCIS unveiled a brand-new form (Form I-944) that must be filed with all applications for adjustment of status postmarked on or after February 24, 2020.
What is Form I-944?
This new Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency, will be used by USCIS to determine whether an applicant is likely to become a public charge at any time in the future based on several factors including receipt of public benefits, as well as the applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education and skills, prospective immigration status and period of stay, and the petitioner’s Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.
In general, a person is inadmissible based on public charge grounds if he or she is more likely than not at any time in the future to receive one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.
Who is Exempt from Filing this Form?
Certain special classes of immigrants are not required to file the new Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency with an adjustment of status application such as: VAWA self-petitioners, special immigrant juveniles, certain Afghani or Iraqi nationals, asylees, refugees, victims of qualifying criminal activity (U Nonimmigrants), victims of human trafficking (T nonimmigrants), applicants applying under the Cuban Adjustment Act, Haitian Refugee Fairness Act, certain Parolees, Nicaraguans and other Central Americans of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), and other special classes of immigrants.
What is on Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency?
Information about the Applicant’s Household
Form I-944 now requires an applicant to provide detailed information about their household including information about all individuals living in the household, information about the applicant’s assets, resources, and financial status, as well as the household’s assets, resources, and financial status of all members living in the household. Household members include the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, children (under age 21 and unmarried) physically residing with the applicant, and any other individuals receiving at least 50 percent of the applicant’s financial support.
Part 3 of the application requires the applicant and his household members to list their annual gross (total) income as indicated on their most recent federal income tax return. The household’s annual gross income must be at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the most recent year (or 100 percent if you are on active duty, other than in training, in the U.S. Armed Forces).
If the combined household income is less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines based on the applicant’s household size, the applicant must demonstrate that the total value of his or her household’s assets and resources is five times the difference between the household’s annual gross income and 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size.
Household’s Assets and Resources
In addition, the new form requires applicants to provide information regarding any assets and resources available to the applicant and/or his household members (type of asset and amount) including money in checking and savings accounts, annuities, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts and educational accounts, net cash value of real estate holdings, and other assets.
Liabilities and Debts
Applicants are asked to provide detailed information regarding all liabilities or debts such as mortgages, car loans, unpaid child or spousal support, unpaid taxes, and credit card debt. Documentation for each liability or debt must be submitted with the application along with an explanation where necessary.
Credit Report and Score
Perhaps most interestingly, this new form requires applicants with a U.S. credit score to submit a credit report from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion along with their application for adjustment of status. If any negative history appears in the applicant’s credit report, the applicant must provide an explanation. Negative history includes any delinquent accounts, debt collections, charge-offs (delinquency accounts unlikely to be collected), repossession, foreclosure, judgments, tax liens, or bankruptcies.
Applicants who do not have U.S. credit score must provide documentation that demonstrates that they do not have a credit report or score with a credit bureau.
The new form asks whether an applicant has U.S. health insurance. Applicants with U.S. health insurance must attach evidence of their health insurance and provide information about their premium tax credit or advanced premium tax credit under the Affordable Care Act (if applicable), their annual deductible or annual insurance premium, the health insurance termination date, etc.
The most important part of the application asks applicants to provide any information about the applicant’s application or certification for, or receipt of public benefits regardless of amount or duration. Applicants are asked whether they have ever received, or are currently certified to receive in the future any of the following public benefits: (1) Federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, (2) Supplemental Security Income (3) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (4) General Assistance (5) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps”) (6) Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program (7) Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation (8) Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937 or (9) Federal-Funded Medicaid.
If the applicant has received one of the above benefits, they must provide information about each public benefit including the type of public benefit, agency granting the benefit, date the benefit began, date the benefit ended, and the amount received.
Further information is requested in this section regarding any special circumstances that may exempt the applicant from being found to be a public charge.
Applicants who have a pending application to receive any of the nine public benefits enumerated above or who have been denied any of the nine public benefits enumerated are required to disclose this information including the date of application of the above listed public benefits, or date of withdrawal if the applicant withdrew an application for public benefits before being certified to receive the public benefit.
The new form asks applicants whether they have applied for or received a fee waiver in the past when applying for an immigration benefit from USCIS. Applications who have applied for a fee waiver must provide the date the fee waiver was received, the type of immigration benefit sought, and the receipt number.
Education and Skills
Lastly, this new form asks applicants to provide information regarding their education, occupational skills, and other related information. Applicants with an approved I-140 for alien workers must provide the I-140 receipt number.
In this section applicants are asked whether they have graduated high school or received a high school equivalent diploma as well as details regarding their educational history including all degrees attained. If applicable applicants must provide evidence of any degrees or certifications received such as transcripts, diplomas, degrees, and trade profession certificates or equivalent. Any education attained outside the United States must contain an evaluation of equivalency by an accredited academic evaluation agency that is authorized to determine equivalency (see National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for authorized agencies.
Furthermore, applicants must list all relevant occupational skills, including certifications and licenses, dates they were obtained, the name of the issuing agency, license numbers, and expiration/renewal date. This includes workforce skills, training, licenses for specific occupations or professions, and certificates documenting mastery or apprenticeships in skilled trades or professions.
These applicants must provide evidence of any training, licenses for specific occupations or professions, and certificates documenting mastery or apprenticeships in skilled trades or professions.
English and Other Language Skills
Applicants are asked to provide information about their skill with English and any other language. Applicants with certifications or who have taken courses in languages other than English are required to provide evidence of such language certifications, language or literacy courses taken presently or in the past, etc.
Evidence of language certification may include high school diplomas and college degrees showing that the native language was studied for credit.
Lastly, applicants are asked whether they are retired. Retired applicants must provide the date of retirement.
For more information about how an applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education and skills, prospective immigration status and period of stay, can factor into a public charge determination please click here.