On Monday February 24, 2020, the USCIS began implementing the PUBLIC CHARGE Rule, which affects all immigrants applying for green cards or adjustment of status, change of status, and those seeking to extend their visas within the US. There are a few categories of immigrants exempted from the new rule, namely; refugees, asylees, some T and U visa applicants, and some Violence Against Women’s Act non-immigrant visa applicants. The rule applies to benefits received on or after February 24, 2020.

To be a public charge, an alien must have received one or more public benefits for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period. Note that an alien, who receives two benefits in one month, is deemed to have received two benefits for the purposes of the new rule).

We at NCLS will continue to do our best in guiding our clients to navigate the new rule and all its attendant requirements. There is a new more detailed Form I-485 to be completed, and an 18-page Form I-944, the Declaration of Self-Sufficiency Form to be completed, with new sets of required documents.

The purpose of Form I-944 is for USCIS to determine whether an adjustment of status applicant will likely require government assistance in the future. The USCIS officers have broad discretion (more than before) to make the determination, based on all the evidence or documentation provided by the applicant, if he/she will likely require government benefits or assistance in the future.

Some of the information and evidence required include; total household income of the applicant, assets that can be turned into cash within a 12-month period, credit reports, evidence of health insurance, total debts/liabilities of the applicant.