On August 14, 2019 the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) announced
a new “public charge” rule; this rule will go into effect on October 15, 2019 and
directly impacts all individuals applying for a green card.
At this point the Trump Administration
has only released a draft version of the new Form I-944. USCIS has not yet released any final forms or
documents. Accordingly, we are advising
clients to try and file as many cases before October 15 because it is
impossible to say with certainty what the new forms will require.
A public charge is someone who is
dependent on the government, through benefits programs. The Trump Administration’s new rule changes
the standard by the USCIS determines whether a foreign national is likely to
become a public charge. Under the previous
policy, USCIS examined whether an intending immigrant was primarily dependent
on public benefits. Under the new
rule, USCIS will examine whether immigrants are likely at any time to
become a public charge, using a multi-factor test.
USCIS is now required to consider a
range of factors when making a determination if the foreign national visa
applicant is likely to become a pubic charge.
These factors include:
a. Receipt of a public benefit for more
than 12 months in the aggregate within a 36 month period
f. Assets, resources, and financial
A draft version of the form I-944,
Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, has been released by the USCIS. In addition to the I-944, new versions of the
several other immigration forms required for green card applications, H-1Bs,
and H-4s will be updated. The USCIS has
not yet published the final version of the I-944 and the other revised forms.
The draft version of the I-944
requires all green card applicants to provide detailed information about his or
her household. The applicant’s household
includes anyone listed as a dependent on the applicant’s tax return and anyone
for whom the applicant provides 50% or more support. The form I-944 asks for:
name, date of birth, and relationship to the applicant of each member of the
education and occupational skills for an applicant who does not have an
approved I-140; for applicants who do have an approved I-140, the applicant
must provide the I-140 receipt number
income of the applicant and all household members
list of any assets held by household members that can be converted into cash
within 12 months, e.g. checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds,
retirement accounts, etc.
list of any liabilities or debts held by household members, e.g. mortgages, car
loans, credit card debt, unpaid taxes, etc.
credit report and credit score of all applicants
terms and type of health insurance policy held by each applicant
application, receipt, or certification of public benefits for each applicant,
including enrollment, disenrollment, and withdrawing of public benefits
The adjudicating Officer will review
all of the above listed information when making a determination as to whether
the green card applicant is likely to become a public charge. At this time, it is unclear if all of the
items listed above will be required of all applicants, even when the
applicant’s income meets a certain threshold or the applicant has guaranteed
employment in the United States because of an approved I-140.
Policy experts forecast that this rule
will likely be applied inconsistently, cause fewer legal immigrants to enter
the United States, and cause further delays in the processing of immigration applications
by the USCIS. MU will send additional
information once the immigration forms have been finalized and greater clarity
is provided by the USCIS.