Form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency Info

USCIS Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, Assess Public Charge

In US Immigration - Visas by KumarUpdated : 14 Comments

USCIS, DHS recently published final version of the ‘Public Charge’ rule, officially titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds”. In the public charge rule, they mentioned that, a foreigner’s likelihood of becoming public charge would be determined based on totality of circumstances of the individual, and they would use “Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” to assess the same. In this article, we will review aspects like who would need to file, how USCIS will use the details in form for assessment, what all details you will need to fill in the form like credit history, assets, cash, house details, etc.. 

Important Note :  The final version of the USCIS Form I-944 is not published yet, but draft versions are only published at this point.  

The Public charge final rule document talks about the high-level details of the form, how it will be used and what they would look to assess an individual for potential public charge. Let’s dive in…

What is Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency?

USCIS has introduced new form called “Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” as part of the new public charge rule, which will be effective from October 15th, 2019. Depending on the type of application filed with USCIS, the new form I-944 would be a required as needed. For some types of applicants, it would be mandatory…but, for some it is optional and only required, if requested by USCIS.  It is a 19-page long form and you would need to fill in all sorts of details like age, family info, health info, assets info, income, credit history, and many more details.

Who all would need to submit the Form I-944 with USCIS ?

USCIS mentions that all individuals applying for adjustment of status using form I-485 are required to submit Form I-944, unless they are in a class that is exempted by statue or regulation. Each applicant filing, I-485 needs to file their own separate Form I-944.  Also, it may be requested by USCIS for any of the Visa extensions or Change of statues. As you know Public Charge Rule Impact H1B, L1, H4, L2 and many other visas. Also, as the Public Charge rule applies to F1 Students, OPT holders, you may need to file as well. So, technically, if you filed for H1B, L1, F1, H4, etc. Extension or COS, you may get an RFE to submit form I-944.

How long does it take to fill out form I-944? Fees for I-944 form ?

USCIS says that currently there is no fee for the form and it would take approximately 4.5 hours to fill out the form…Also, there are certain costs associated with the form for the individuals like getting credit history from one of the three vendors, and other documents. Looking at the form below, you will see, that it would take way more than 4.5 hours… 

Now that we know the basics, let’s dive into the details on how USCIS will use the Form I-944

How is the Form I-944 used by USCIS to determine, if you are inadmissible under Public Charge Rule ?

USCIS will look at all the factors such as applicant’s age, health, family information, assets that they possess, financial status, education skills, etc. and use the details filled in the form I-944 to consider them as negative or positive factor for the applicant and then give a weighing factor for each of them like neutral or heavily weighted. In the end they will look at the overall factors, their weightage and come up with an analysis to determine if an applicant would become a public charge in future. 

  • For example, if the age is 30, then it is a positive factor and the weightage is neutral for that. But, if the applicant has a health condition that requires excess medical treatment and they are uninsured and may not buy private insurance, then it is a negative factor and heavily weighted. Below are some of the examples that were given by USCIS in the rule document for everyone to get an idea.

Below are the copies of the examples and assessment from USCIS final rule for your understanding.

Positive Example Case without being Public Charge :

Public Charge Rule Form I-944 Determination of Individuals - Positive One Not public Charge

Negative Case where individual is Determined as Public Charge :

USCIS Deterimination of Individual based on Factors Negative assessed as public charge

Now that we have seen how they assess, let us look at the details you need to fill in the form I-944.

What all details need to filled in Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency ?

The form I-944 is a very lengthy form with 19 pages. The instructions itself are about 15 pages. For all the supporting documents, you should submit photocopies that are readable, unless they ask for originals for review.  Also, the documents need to be in English or translated to English, if in other language. Below are the various details that you are required to fill by type of information.  

  • Personal information: You need to fill in all your details like Name, Address, Date of birth, Citizenship, Alien Registration number, place of birth, etc.
  • Family Status / Household Information: You will need to fill out details of all the individuals in your  household.
    • Names, date of birth, relationship to you, do they live with you, and if they are filing for immigration benefit with you or already have filed it.
  • Personal & Household Assets, Resources, and Financial Status : There are multiple sections under this, like income, assets, resources and financial status, etc. as listed below.
    • Household Income Information: You will need to fill details of the entire household income. You will need to fill income, tax details by individual for all the people listed in your household in family status section.  
      • Name, status of tax filing, Tax year, Total income from Tax return.
      • If the individual missed to file tax return, they need to give explanation.
      • You also need to list if you got any money from illegal activities like illegal drugs or gambling… (interesting question right ? wonder how may would list something here for illegal income…)
      • If you get additional income weekly or monthly like child support, that is not part of the tax return, you need fill that details as well. You need to provide supporting documents for the same.
    • Household Assets Information: You need to fill in all types of assets in this section that the individuals in the household own and that can be converted into cash within 12 months. You need to put in the dollar value of the assets.
      • Below are the various asset types, you can list. You need to fill in the Name of the household, type of asset, and the dollar value. Various kinds of assets like below should be listed
        • Checking and Savings account balances in Cash
        • Stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits (CDs)
        • Annuities
        • Retirement accounts, educational accounts
        • Real Estate holdings
        • House Value.
        • Automobile, if you have more than one.
      • All Proofs, Licensed appraiser: You need to submit proofs for all of the assets that you listed like bank statements, etc. For House valuation, you need to get it from a licensed appraiser to get the recent value of the house, subtract it from all the loans taken on the same. Also, cash value of the real estate holdings too. You can only list cars, others as assets, only if there are more than one.
    • Household Liabilities Information: You need to fill in all types of liabilities that you and your household individuals have in this section.All kinds of debt like below should be listed and support relevant proof for the same.
      • Mortgages
      • Education loans
      • Credit Cards related debt
      • Car Loans
      • Tax Debts
      • Personal Loans
    • Credit Score Report, Bad Credit Explanation: You need to submit recent ( within 12 months) credit score, credit score document  from any one of the three US credit reporting agencies ( Experian, Equifax or TransUnion). If you do not have credit report, should submit record indicating the same from the credit agency. Also, if you have negative credit history or low credit score as per your report, you need to explain the reasons for the same.
    • Bankruptcy Details : If you have ever filed for bankruptcy in US or in a foreign country, you need to indicate the same and provide all such details.
    • Health Insurance, Premium Tax Credits Obamacare : You need to provide details of your health insurance, if you have it or not. If you have it, details of the same like annual deductible or premium, termination date. You need to also indicate if you received any premium Tax Credits or Advanced Premium Tax Credits under Affordable Care Act.  You need to provide proofs of the same like Transcript Copy of IRS form 8963, PTC and Copy of 1095A.    
      • Also, if you don’t have health insurance, you should indicate your intent to  buy it or not planning to buy.   Also, you need to submit proof for the future date ones.  Also, explanation, if not planning to buy.
  • Public Benefits Used by Individual:  You need to indicate all the public benefits like SSI, TANF, GA, Food Stamps, etc. that were used by you ever in the past or using now, including if you plan to use them in the future. These are all the listed public benefits that are part of the final rule. If you plan to disenroll from them, you need to indicate the same.
    •  You need to indicate each of the public benefits used separately by public benefit type, the agency, duration, how much you received as benefit.  Also, you need to submit proofs of all the same.
    • Even though you are exempt from consideration, you still need to list all the benefits used in the past.
    • There are questions related to exemptions that you need to fill to indicate the same, if you will be exempt.
    • Also, you should even indicate, if you ever applied for them and were denied such public benefit too.
    • You need to indicate, if you have got any immigration fee waivers in the past, the reason for using that benefit as well.
  • Education and Skills :  You need to indicate all the education and skills you have as applicant, like if you attended high school, college degree, etc. and details of the same with dates and proofs related to the same like transcripts, degree certificates, etc. If you do not have proof available for something, you need to submit letter from the university or school indicating the reason for not having it.
    • Foreign School Evaluation : If you have degrees from foreign institution, you need to submit evaluation that is from an agency that will evaluate it against US educational institutions and degree. You can use evaluators at  https://www.naces.org/members.htm
    • Occupational Skills, Licenses : If you have any certifications or professional licenses then you should indicate the same, with details of them and their expiation info. Also, need to provide evidence of the same.
    • English and Other Language Skills : You need to provide certifications or courses that you had in English and other languages in addition to English.  Also, you need to provide proof of such English courses and certificates. If your degree was taught in English, you can provide proof the same.
  • Retirement Details : If the individual is retired, you need to provide details of the same and proofs of such income, if any.         
  • Interpreter Details : If someone else assisted you in preparing the document, you need to fill out the interpreter details as well.
  • Authorizations, Declarations and Signature : You will be authorizing that USCIS can check with Social Security, USDA, US Dept of Health, HUD, etc. many Govt entities, including Credit Reporting agency, that they can verify.  Also, you will have to sign that all copies are originals copies and if they ask, you need to submit the original documents as well for review.
  • Interviews : Depending on the case, there could be potential interview calls from USCIS regarding this form and you may need to attend the interview at a USCIS office and you would need to provide biometrics and sign the form as well.
  • Additional Information : If you have any additional information and the space does not fit in the page, you can attach it separately by proving such details and references for the section..

Phew!!! Definitely, to me, it does not look like it would be done in 4.5 hours. It seems to me that it may take 4.5 days or maybe 45 days to get all of these sorted out for some documents.

Below are the actual forms Drafts that we were able to gather. You can review them in detail.

USCIS Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency – Draft Version

USCIS Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency – Instructions Draft Version

Is form I-864 Affidavit of Support not required with New Form I-944 in place ?

No, you are still required to fill form I-864 affidavit of support, if you are required to file it as part of the adjustment of status application.

Is there fee for form I-944 ?

No, there is no fee at this point.

Is it mandatory for everyone to file form I-944 ?

No, it is mandatory only for Adjustment of Status applications filed with form I-485. Others may need to submit on a case by case basis.

What do you think of the new Form I-944 ?  How long do you think it will take for you ?

References: Official Final Public Charge Rule

   

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Comments ( 14 )

  1. Ren

    I, as a US citizen, plan to apply for AOS for my elderly mother soon. She has no chronic health issue, also evident from USCIS authorized medical examiner report. She has no earned income but we have relatively higher household income (~$400K earned by the petitioner/sponsor, for a household of 4 including my mother), and we are applying well before Oct. 15, deadline. In this scenario:
    a) Will the AOS beneficiary (elderly mother) be evaluated using the public charge rule?
    b) If so, will providing proof of her current private health insurance along with AOS application (not required currently) help?
    c) My lawyer advised me that at my income level, there is no need to show any assets (as it is optional in I-864 if you have sufficiently high income and attach last 3 years tax returns). However, given the imminent public charge rule, would disclosing my assets help my mother’s AOS application?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      a. No, will not be evaluated as there is no requirement to submit this form.
      b. No need to send anything, if you are doing it before October 15.
      c. Well, no need to submit unless asked. If they ask for it, then you may….Follow the current process and get it done soon.

  2. Mary

    Will approval be denied if the applicants husband is receiving the benefit (SSI & food stamp) or is it looking at the applicant receiving it?

    It is too much info to gather specially if they have 6 household members but if chances of denial for AOS after October 15, then is it advisable to do everything before the said date?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Mary,
      No, it should not. They clearly tell that the public charge applies to the individual using those benefits. Yeah, it is going to be a nightmare for many to gather all of this info. Yes, it is better to be prepared and start gathering the info…

      1. Mary

        Thanks so much for the reply.
        So if wedding can be done right away would you advise to just file before October 15?
        Would they question and doubt why wedding happened quickly like a week or two after arrival?

  3. C&H

    Hello,
    Thank you very much for very detailed and helpful guidance. If we received benefits such as Head start, WIC, Medicare in 2016, 2017 and 2018 do we still need to list and report into the form I-944 when we file I-485 in 2020?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Well, that’s what the form says. Check the PDF form for yourself. It says, if you have EVER received the benefit, you need to list. They would not consider it directly, but may capture it for the record. We are yet to see the final forms. But, gives you an idea…Will keep this updated as the final forms are published.

      1. C&H

        Thank you so much again!!! You’re the best.
        Given the pending litigation, is there any chance we can hope that the implementation of this rule can be delayed a little bit? In which circumstance, it can be delayed?

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          🙂 No worries. Well, looking at the way it stands, there is so much of opposition on the ruling. Many are impacted and there are many groups suing the Govt. It could get delayed, again my speculation 🙂 You plan for the worst and be prepared though.

  4. Ram

    It is a step in the right direction. I have personally seen people come in on family based Green Card with zero skills. The husband looks for a minimum wage security guard job and the spouse looks for below minimum wage nanny job.

    The US of A does not need this category of immigrants.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      It is a big privacy concern for many, as some of this information would be also shared with employers, attorney as they are filing the documents…

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