Form I-944: The Complete Guide (Free)
Author: Jameel Manji, Founder, Manji Law, P.C.
Mr. Manji founded Manji Law in 2016 to follow his passion of helping people navigate the complicated immigration system. Mr. Manji graduated from Georgia State University College of Law and received Master of Taxation from Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Published on: September 23, 2019, Last Updated on: November 24, 2022.
USCIS form I-944 is the ”Declaration of Self-Sufficiency” and may be required of all non-exempt people who file for adjustment of status. This form and the corresponding Public Charge Rule were expected to be put into effect as of October 15, 2019, but were delayed by an injunction.
As of February 2020, the Department of Homeland Security is no longer prevented from implementing the Public Charge Rule. The purpose of this rule is to screen out the applicants who have a high chance of becoming dependent on government support and thus become a ‘public charge.
However, applicants filing for adjustment of status (a green card applied for in the United States) may not need to use Form I-944 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued two nationwide injunctions blocking the implementation of the Public Charge Rule during this national health emergency by the Department of State (DOS) and the USCIS. The directives were issued on July 29, 2020.
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What Is Form I-944?
The complex field of immigration law just got a bit more complicated with the debate around the Public Charge rule and the corresponding I-944 Form. On September 21, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security introduced one of the most significant changes to the “public charge” rule in almost 20 years. The suggested guidelines will decrease the number of immigrants admissible to the U.S. or the amount of those who can have their stay extended due to a potential inability to support themselves.
This change was expected to go into effect on October 15, 2019. However, several parties objected and/or issued injunctions that delayed the initial implementation of the change. One such party is Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Daniels filed a preliminary injunction which has blocked the changes to the public charge rule from going into effect.
Starting February 24, 2020, the rule went into effect. But there is one additional change. As long as the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) is in effect, blocking the DHS and the DOS from implementing the rule during the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS will apply the 1999 guidance that was in place before the new rule was implemented. In other words, the condition of the public benefits will not be applied.
As proposed, the changes to the Public Charge Rule and the new Form I-944 will change what is required of many hopeful immigrants. Although most individuals who will be required to submit this document are accustomed to jumping through hoops, this lengthy application to gain permanent residence would best be explained by a qualified immigration attorney, such as those from Manji Law.
I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency
The I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency form shows that an entering or remaining individual is not likely to become one requiring public assistance. Those requesting Immigration Services from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and anyone using the adjustment of status to apply for a green card within the United States may be required to prove that they will not burden the American taxpayers through a credit report.
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I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency: Latest News
As immigration laws continue to evolve, individuals worldwide with dreams of becoming U.S. citizens or permanent residents have been anticipating the latest information regarding “public charge” guidelines. In a 5-4 vote early in 2020, the Supreme Court passed a ruling that allows the Trump administration to make it more difficult for low-income would-be immigrants to come to or remain in the U.S.
The phrase “public charge” was coined in the summer of 2019 when the Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli quipped: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” as a variation of the poem found on the Statue of Liberty.
Where previous restrictions only included cash benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income from Social Security, the new rule expands to include anyone who is expected to require financial status aid from the government or public benefit granting agency with other retirement benefits. This affects any individuals who may require public assistance, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers.
Although the Trump administration’s immigration policies have met serious opposition, with the recent order, the rule automatically went into effect in nearly every state as of February 24, 2020, unless there is an appeal. This poses long-reaching consequences affecting individuals seeking lawful permanent U.S. status worldwide.
Form I-944 Recent Information
After the 2019 injunction and delay in this rule going into effect, the new variation of the USCIS Form I-944 was released. A copy can be viewed or downloaded to edit from the USCIS website here. This is a 19-page application that requires a variety of data. The applicant should provide information like the following:
- Age, marital status, and other personal information
- Household information, including a relationship with every household member
- Health information with insurance card details with your name and the effective and expiration dates
- Family status and employment history
- Property and assets of each family member
- Earnings of all household members
- Credit rating with supporting evidence
- Information regarding liabilities
- Information regarding public benefits
- Occupational and Education information, etc.
The USCIS officials will use that information to make sure applicants can support themselves and to determine whether they might be using public benefits in the future as per the federal poverty guidelines. If they decide that an applicant is likely to be using government-funded benefits or non-cash benefits, his or her green card application can be denied.
Contact an Atlanta immigration lawyer for the latest information and assistance filling out forms like the I-944 and I-765 (typically known as the work permit application).
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I944 Declaration Form
For some candidates, it is compulsory to submit the I944 form as per DHS public charge rule; however, for some, it is optional and only needed if requested. According to the USCIS, anyone requesting an extension or a change of status who require an I-485 form must also fill out a form I-944 USCIS. With any new regulation, it is a good idea to seek advice from an attorney to file appropriately.
Anyone who is thought to be likely to file for public services as specified in DHS rule 212.21 (b) may be affected.
If you are obtaining a migration benefit with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with government assistance, you may need to demonstrate that you are not most likely to become a public charge under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) area 212 (a)(4). A “public charge” refers to a person that receives any of the public benefits like a health insurance card, defined in 8 CFR 212.21( b).
An unusual inadmissible based on the general public charge grounds means an alien that is likely any time in the future to receive one or much more public advantages as defined in 212.21 (b) based upon the completeness of the alien’s conditions.
If you are applying for an expansion of stay or modification of status by submitting Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Condition, or if a petitioner is looking for to expand your nonimmigrant keep or transform your nonimmigrant condition by submitting Form I-129, Application for a Nonimmigrant Employee, or Form I-129CW, Application for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker, this form might be requested as part of the effort to figure out whether you are likely to receive public benefits.
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Detailed Information Regarding I-944 Form
The I-944 Form is an extremely prolonged application consisting of 19 pages of detailed information. For all supporting files, you need to send legible copies or originals, if requested, for evaluation. The files need to be in English, as well. So, an interpreter may be required.
This declaration form is a part of your green card application or change of status application and you have to submit it along with Form I-485. Pay attention when filling out these forms. If something doesn’t apply in your case, check N/A, don’t leave it blank. If you make a mistake, that can result in your application process for a green card being delayed or denied.
When it comes to supporting documents, you will need everything you are asked for. For example, for proof of income to determine if you would require financial support, you can provide tax returns; for proof of assets, you can provide bank statements or property deeds. You will also need evidence of your education and other information listed on the form. If the supporting documents are not available, it is a good idea to explain why that is the case.
Instructions for the Declaration of Self-Sufficiency form can be found online at the USCIS website or via organizations like the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Groups like AILA make an effort to share the latest updates on these matters.
But to have detailed guidelines and assistance, you can consult with an experienced attorney who is experienced in immigration law and filing for immigration status.
I-944 Form Immigration Information
There are many pieces of additional information required when you fill out your form I-944 declaration of self-sufficiency. These include, but are not excluded, the following:
Name, address, date of birth, citizenship, alien registration number, and place of birth
Names, date of birth, and relationship to you for every member of the household
Information for the entire household income, including name, the status of tax filing, tax year, total income from tax return
Household Assets Information like checking and savings account balances, cash, stocks, retirement accounts, etc.
Appraisal and cash value of the real estate holdings
Household Liabilities like mortgages, car loans, or personal loans
Credit Score Report
Bankruptcy Details if relevant
Health Insurance and Premium Tax Credits Obamacare
Public Benefits Used like SSI, TANF, Food Stamps, etc.
Education and Skills
Occupational Skills and Licenses
Certification of English and Other Language Skills
Retirement details, if necessary
Interpreter details if necessary
Authorization for USCIS to verify with the Credit Reporting Agency and Govt entities like Social Security, U.S. Dept of Health, HUD, etc.
The declaration that all documents are copies of the originals
You can attach any additional information not specified to your form I-944. You may also need to submit biometrics and an interview at a USCIS office. An attorney experienced with forms like the I-485 adjustment of status and the Form I-944 can offer more specific advice on these, as well as a public charge.
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What Is the Processing Time for the Form I-944 USCIS?
When processing your form I-944 USCIS, officials will take a look at all the facts, such as the candidate’s age, health, household info, possessions that they have, monetary status, level of education, and so on to determine eligibility.
If they determine that you are eligible and able to support yourself and if you meet other requirements, you will probably receive your green card in about 10-13 months after filing your documents. There are currently no filing fees for your green card application or change of status application. However, you will have to pay expenses to obtain the required documents.
When completing a form like a form I-944 USCIS or dealing with any USCIS Atlanta issue, it can be helpful to have an attorney by your side. Experienced lawyers like those at Manji Law know what it takes to get legal status in the U.S. and will advocate for you and your family and advise you on challenges such as public charges or adjustment of status.
Experienced Attorneys Can Provide the Latest Information on USCIS Form I-944
Contact Manji Law to navigate the current changing rules regarding the USCIS Form I-944, public charge, or adjustment of status. As this is a new ordinance, it is less likely for an average individual to find the most current information in an easy-to-understand format online. Plus, with as detailed as it is, it may require that extra help a qualified professional can provide.
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