Back to Top skip to main content
Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm - United States
Oct 11, 2019

USCIS Oversteps On Demand For Personal Income Information In New, Form I-944 Relating To “Public Charge”

Stephen Antwine and Joshua H. Rolf

Beginning October 15, 2019, all applicants for adjustment of status will be required to file a new, Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). USCIS has instituted this new form in order for individuals applying for permanent residence to demonstrate that they are not likely be become a “a public charge” pursuant to INA § 212(a)(4).  USCIS is seeking information related to household members, taxable income, tax payment history, foreign and domestic financial assets, credit scores, acceptance of public benefits, educational background and occupational skills.  

The “public charge” language pertains to whether an individual admitted to the United States is more likely than not, in the future, to be reliant on public benefits. USCIS asserts that the rule “will only consider public benefits received directly by the applicant for the applicant’s own benefit, or where the applicant is a listed beneficiary of the public benefits.” USCIS has stated that the information will allow the agency to uphold immigration policy that “the availability of public benefits not constitute an incentive for immigration to the United States.”

While there are exceptions to the application of this policy for VAWA petitioners, refugees, asylees, victims of crimes, special immigrant juveniles and select other categories of immigrants, the majority of applicants for status will be required to submit the form and corresponding information.This new form will be required for immigrant visas issued at State Department posts.

Similarly, for nonimmigrant visa petitions (Form I-129) and change/extension of status applications (Form I-539), USCIS has included requests for additional information pertaining to the beneficiary or applicant's use of public benefits while in the United States. Importantly, though the additional information is required for all I-539 Applications, it is only required in Form I-129 petitions that request a change of status or extension of stay within the United States (i.e. such information need not be provided for petitions requesting consular processing). While not nearly as extensive as the information and documentation required in the Form I-944, as presently constructed the Form I-129 will require employers to attest to their actual or potential employees' receipt of public benefits.  

There is limited information or policy guidance on how USCIS intends to use this information; however, this regulatory change is clearly designed to increase adjustment of status denials based on the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility.  Many immigrants to the United States lack a credit history, extensive assets or financial resources, especially after paying for the costs of immigration processing and relocation.  As such, many will be unable to provide even the basic information required on the Form I-944.  Moreover, it remains unclear how USCIS intends to use the information and how lower-income individuals will be treated in the process.

Should you have any questions about this new policy, please contact the attorneys at Green & Spiegel, LLC for assistance at (215) 395-8959.

**On October 11, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York imposed a nationwide injunction on the implementation of this new policy. The injunction stops USCIS from “implementing, considering in connection with any application, or requiring the use of any new or updated forms…including the new Form I-944, titled ‘Declaration of Self Sufficiency’ and the updated Form I-485, titled Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.”**​

***While the temporary restraining order which was signed in the Southern District of New York prevents USCIS from implementing the new public charge rules, the application of those rules and corresponding forms has gone into effect with the U.S. Department of State.  This means that all new applicants seeking to consular process will have to submit the additional forms to document their income, access to public benefits and education.***

 ****The Department of State has advised that visa applicants are not required to take any additional steps related to the “public charge” rule at this time.  The Department is seeking approval for use of a new form related to the “public charge” before it implements any changes to its processes.****

Related Team

Stephen Antwine

Stephen Antwine

215-395-8959

215-395-8959

email Stephen

Philadelphia (US Headquarters)

Full Biography

Stephen Antwine
Joshua H. Rolf

Joshua H. Rolf

(215) 395-8959

(215) 395-8959

email Joshua

Philadelphia (US Headquarters)

Full Biography

Joshua H. Rolf

Recent Blogs

Sep 18, 2020

Update on Upcoming USCIS Fee Changes

• Fee increases and corresponding versions of new forms will apply to filings postmarked 10/02/2020 or later. • Fee increases by a weighted average of 20%, $10.00 discount available to online filings. • Significant increases for naturalization and overall cost of adjustment of status. • Asylum Applications will now carry $50.00 fee. • Premium Processing will remain the same fee but with 15-business-day deadline. • Most separate biometric fees eliminated and built-in to overall filing fee. • Several fee waivers no longer available. Learn more in this blog.

Sep 17, 2020

Appeals Court Rules Trump Administration Can End Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

The United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that President Trump can put an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would deny more than 300,000 individuals the ability to remain in the United States legally. Learn more in this blog.

Aug 26, 2020

President Trump’s RNC Naturalization Ceremony Was Misleading

Last night, The Republican National Convention broadcast featured a prerecorded segment in which President Trump hosted a naturalization ceremony for five candidates at the White House. The president attempted to soften his image of being harsh on immigration by highlighting the achievements of these five diverse individuals and emphasizing the incredible honor of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States. Learn more in this blog.