Starting February 24, 2020, most green card applications for lawful permanent residence filed in the United States will require a Form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency. Since 2019 something known as the public charge rule has been in and out of the courts- a rule put in place to ensure that those applying for a visa to come to or permanent residency in the United States would not apply for public benefits. In early February the Supreme Court paved the way for the public charge rule to take effect.
As a result, USCIS has created a new form as part of its permanent residency application in the United States. It must be submitted if you are filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and you are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility.
Which adjustment of status applications must submit Form I-944?
Some categories of adjustment of status or green card applications that are not subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and do not need to submit a Form I-944 include:
- As a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioner;
- As a Special Immigrant Juvenile;
- As a Certain Afghan or Iraqi national;
- As an Asylee;
- As a Refugee;
- As a victim of qualifying criminal activity (U Visa Nonimmigrant) under INA section 245(m);
- Under any category other than INA section 245(m) but you are in valid U visa nonimmigrant status at the time you file your application for adjustment of status. (This exemption only applies if, at the time of the adjudication of the Form I-485, you are still in valid U nonimmigrant status. If, at the time of adjudication of the Form I-485, you are no longer in valid U nonimmigrant status, you may be required to submit a Form I-944 and a Form I-864).
- As a victim of human trafficking (T Visa Nonimmigrant) under INA section 245(l);
- Under any category other than INA section 245(l), but you either have a pending application for T nonimmigrant status (Form I-914) that sets forth a prima facie case for eligibility, or are in valid T nonimmigrant status at the time you file your application for adjustment of status. (This exemption only applies if your Form I-914 is still pending and deemed to be prima facie eligible, or you are in valid T nonimmigrant status when we adjudicate your adjustment of status application);
- Under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
If your application does not fall into one of the categories for which the public charge ground of inadmissibility does not apply, you will have to file the Form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency with your application for adjustment of status.
What kind of information do you need to complete the Form I-944?
The form solicits information regarding all persons in your household, including their age, their income, their income tax filings, their relationship to the applicant, and household assets. The I-944 also asks for information on the intending immigrant's debts, credit, health insurance, education, skills, and whether any public benefits have been applied for or received. These items must be documented with credit reports, tax transcripts, bank statements, real estate appraisals, health insurance policies, among other documents.
Practically, this means that if you are planning on applying in the near future for permanent residency, you should start to collect some of the necessary documents now as obtaining some of these documents could take some time. For more guidance on how to best prepare your application for adjustment of status in light of the new I-944 form you should consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.