USCIS Form I-944 took effect on February 24, 2020. USCIS uses this form to determine if a petitioner for an immigration benefit will likely rely on public benefits and only uses it for adjustment or change of status applications in the US. USCIS does not use this form in naturalization applications. (This article will not cover the Public Charge rule. You can read about the Public Charge rule here on this website and here on the USCIS website.) Form I-944 is called “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency,” and as the title suggests, it is only filled out by the applicant on the Adjustment or Change of Status application. The form is 18 pages long and goes into great detail in an applicant’s finances and requires many additional documents. This article will cover all the questions and documents needed.
How to fill out Form I-944
Some parts are self-explanatory while others need some explanation. This section will cover the parts that need explanation.
- Household includes you, your spouse, unmarried children under 21, unmarried children under 21 who do not live with you who you also provide at least 50% financial support, anyone else you provide at least 50% financial support, and any individual who provides you with at least 50% financial support.
- Household income includes income from any individual listed under household. The income must be 125% above the federal poverty line. See https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines. If this is not 125% above, you can use assets owned by you and your household members to help. If you use assets to push above the poverty line, the calculation is a little confusing. The value of the assets must be 5 times the difference between your household’s income and 125% of the poverty line. For example, for an individual who makes $10,000 per year: (($12,760*125%)-$10,000)*5=$29,750. In this example, the individual would need an additional $29,750 in assets.
- Assets are anything that can be converted into cash within 12 months. This can only include an automobile if a household member owns 2 or more cars. It cannot include a single car. Assets include bank accounts, stocks, CDs, retirement accounts, and real estate, among others.
- A credit report can be obtained from each of the major credit agencies once for free each year. (See https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports). Be sure to review the credit report and file for corrections if there’s anything wrong. If there are any negative incidents, you’ll have the opportunity to explain.
- Public benefits is covered under the public charge rule. See https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge.
Documents required, if available
Below is a list of documents that may or may not be required by Form I-944. Some sections might not apply or be available. The form includes boxes to explain why something doesn’t exist or how someone would be able to pay for something. For example, in the health insurance section, there’s a section to explain how the individual would be able to pay for reasonable medical costs if the individual doesn’t have health insurance.
- Applicant’s IRS tax transcript for the most recent year
- Household member’s IRS tax for the most recent year, if this income is being included
- If not required to file taxes in the previous 3 years, include W2 or social security statement
- Evidence showing assets that can be converted into cash within 12 months
- Evidence of debts or liabilities
- Credit report
- Credit score
- Health insurance
- Evidence of receipt of any public benefits
- Education documents, including high school diploma, college degree, transcripts
As you can see, Form I-944 is complicated and document-heavy, in addition to the other forms required for adjusting or changing status. Please contact us to help with your adjustment of status or change of status application.