What does the Public Charge Rule mean for you?
If you are applying for an immigrant visa after February 24, 2020, you are now required to prove that you will not become a "public charge." Specifically, USCIS and the Department of State are now looking to see if you are likely to become dependent on public benefits such as food stamps, public housing, or other welfare-type programs.
Going forward, a new Form I-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) is required with most I-485 green card applications. This is a long and complicated form that requires that you disclose your household's assets and liabilities, tax history, past usage of certain public benefits, health insurance status, credit report, employment history, education history, and knowledge of languages - including English.
Whether or not an applicant meets the requirements is a subjective balancing test that is still unknown to immigration attorneys because it is so new. However, it is believed that the "test" favors educated, financially solid English-speakers with health insurance. Students retired applicants, and those in more vulnerable populations will likely struggle for approvals now. It is strongly suggested that you work with an attorney for a full assessment of your standing in relation to this information.
"The new Public Charge Rule is a Gamechanger."
What evidence do you need to provide?
The new I-944 form requires that the applicant provide a great deal of evidence to support statements made on the form. For example, you must provide your credit report, tax transcripts, documentation regarding assets and liabilities, proof of health insurance, academic transcripts, and other items specific to your case. Failure to include the required documentation (with certified translations!) will likely result in a Request for Additional Evidence or -- worse -- a denial of your green card application.
Green Card applicants and immigration attorneys alike are still wrestling with the Public Charge rule and how it will be applied to specific cases. Be sure to do your research thoroughly or speak with an experienced immigration attorney about your case. It's imperative that you complete the new I-944 form accurately and provide the appropriate evidence. The Public Charge rule is expected to derail many American Dreams in the near future. Don't let it be yours!