How to Overcome Public Charge I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency

As USCIS started requesting I-485 adjustment of status applicants to submit the new form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency from Feb. 24th, 2020, lots of questions and concerns emerged. Many of my readers are eager to know if they can safely pass the public charge rule or not, therefore I spent some time doing research in this ares and hope to give you all a little bit more information.

I-944 Public Charge Rules

Table of Content

How does USCIS evaluate my case for public charge?

Basically, the reviewers are required to take three steps to evaluate whether an applicant is subject to a public charge or not. 

Step 1: Evaluate and Categorize into Positive, Negative, or Interrelated

They will evaluate all facts, circumstances, and evidence in the record and categorize all factors into positive, negative or interrelated. 

What factor is positive and what's negative? It depends on yours likelihood of receiving any public benefits in the next 12 to 36 months. 
  • Positive factors: facts and evidence that will decrease your chance of using public benefits 
  • Negative factors:  facts and evidence that will increase your chance of using public benefits
Remember, the test is in aggregate, which means whether you use 2 separate benefits simultaneously for 6 months or 3 separate benefits for 4 consecutive months, both will be counted as 12 months (one year) of total benefit use.

What are the Positive Factors for Public Charge Rule?

  • Age: between 18 to 61
  • Health: no diagnosed medical condition
  • Finance:
  • Health insurance
  • Education & Skills:
    • Attended elementary, middle, and/or high school
    • Higher education such as Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree, and/or Doctoral Degree
    • Professional skills and relevant certificates
    • English proficiency
    • Other language skills
  • Evidence of ineligibility for public benefits such as immigration status, or expected period of stay
  • Your sponsor(s) are your family members
  • Primary caregiver *

What if I am just a Stay-home Mom?

*I want to elaborate this factor a little more. Some of my readers are full-time moms and they don't have any work history. Note that being a primary caregiver of your kids is actually a positive factor! There are generally two groups of people in this category will be considered as a positive factor:
  • A stay-home parent who care for a newborn or young children in school.
  • A caregiver who cares for his or her elderly, ill, or disabled family members.
However, it's important to know that USCIS also takes a lot of things into consideration such as
  • How old are the people/kids you take care of?
  • Do they live with you in the same residency?
  • Are they part of your household?
  • Are you the only caregiver to them?
Remember to provide supporting evidence such as 
  • Medical record and reports
  • Your legal relationship with the person you take care of. 
  • Your kids' birth certificates (proof of age & relationship)

What are the Negative Factors for Public Charge Rule?

  • Age 17 and younger or age 62 and older
  • Health: I-693 medical report lists
    •  Class A medical condition 
    •  Class B medical condition
    • Doctor indicates the health condition can interfere with the applicant's ability to care for him or herself (ex: to school or work)
  • Finance: 
  • No Health Insurance
  • Education & Skills:
    • No high school diploma, GED, or equalivant
    • No work history
    • No occupational skills
    • Don't speak English

Step 2: Weigh all factors

Now they will weigh all factors individually and cumulatively. One factor can be more heavily weighted (more important) than others. 

What Positive Factors Weigh Heavier?

  • Your household assets, income, and resources are above 250% of the poverty guideline
  • Private health insurance for the expected period of admission
  • You are not receiving benefits under Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) 
  • You have a work permit and are currently employed with an annual income above 250% of the poverty guideline

What Negative Factors Weigh Heavier?

  • You received public benefits for more than 12 months in any 36 month period before the application for your green card ***Alert: USCIS no longer consider public benefit condition during COVID-19. (As long as the court order is in effect. This might change later on, check back again!) Learn more here.

  • You have a medical condition and are not insured or able to pay for the possible medical costs
  • You are not a full-time student and are authorized to work but you don't have recent employment history
  • You have previously been found inadmissible or deportable on the public charge ground 

Step 3: Final Decision

Finally, they will determine whether this applicant is likely or not likely to become a public charge at any time in the future. 
  • Not inadmissible: Positive factors outweigh the negative factors - You passed!
  • Inadmissible: Negative factors outweigh the positive factors - You didn't pass.
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