Declaration of Self Sufficiency- The New Form I-944
Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) posted the new and latest form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency which goes into effect February 24, 2020. This is an 18 page form and is being implemented to further president Trump’s initiative to weed out potential public charge applicants. It is going to be used for Applicants to demonstrate that they are not inadmissible under the public charge ground INA 212(a)(4). Being a public charge is a determination that a person is more likely than not at any time in the future to receive one or more public benefits, as defined in 8 CFR 212.21(b), for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (and if two benefits are taken within one month that counts as two months).It should be noted that due to a federal injunction against the initiative, this form will not be implemented in Illinois, so applicants in the Chicago and Illinois area are not subject to this for now.
As mentioned above the form is 18 pages of information gathering to determine whether or not someone is or is likely to be a public charge, meaning that they have used or will used government benefits such as food stamps, EBTs, Cash Based SSI & TANF Welfare, and/or Medicaid. The rules implementation is from February 24, 2020 onwards and therefore reporting is not required for receipt of public benefits before that date. And USCIS will not consider benefits taken before that date. Applicants should all be mindful of this determination and understand the breath and scope. The form itself is similar in some respects to the I-864 Affidavit of support because its asks about employment, assets, Household size, and Tax Filings. However it is also much more invasive in that it also asks about applications for public benefits and the results of those applications. Each applicant for adjustment of status must file their own I-944 form.
In addition to applicants for I-485 Adjustment of Status, who must file this form and are subject to the new public charge rules, these other applicants are also subject to Public Charge Rules and may have to provide the form I-944:
I-539- applicants for extension of status (H4, L2, F1, F2, or OPT for example). In addition, applicants for change of status to B1 or B2 visitor visa;
I-129- applicants for H1 or L1 visas.
It seems that USCIS will, in these other situations requests the form I-944 through a Request for Evidence (RFE). And each applicant whether a primary or derivative must submit their own I-944 form.
This new form and the rule itself is still in infancy so there are bound to be issues that come up as it gets implemented. Applicants should study the rules carefully and consult with an experience Immigration Attorney if they have any questions or concerns.