I-944 Instructions Guide

Posted by Frank Gogol

Form I-199, Declaration of Self Sufficiency, is a new form that took effect on February 24, 2020, by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for applicants applying for permanent residency in the United States.  Under the new Public Charge Rule, those applying for citizenship using the Adjustment of Status procedure must submit this form before the US government approves them for a US Visa or Green Card to show that they will not depend on public benefits.

What Is Form I-944 Used For?

Through Form I-944, the US government identifies whether or not an immigrant who has applied for citizenship will support themself financially. As per the new Public Charge Rule, the USCIS may deny an immigration application if one cannot show that they can provide for themself.

Form I-994 also helps the US government determine if it is possible for an applicant submitting an adjustment of status application to become a public charge, i.e., a person who depends on benefits like public housing and child support, funded by the government.

As per the Public Charge Rule, a public charge is “an individual who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in total, within any 36 months”.

Basically, the form helps the US government determine if giving a person citizenship or a Green Card Visa will be a financial burden on the state. The government wants to ensure that people immigrating to the US are primarily self-sufficient and not depend on government-funded support.

Who Needs Form I-944?

The USCIS requires any foreign-born persons inside the United States seeking to adjust status to a green card to submit Form I-944. A green card application will not be processed without the form.

If, however, a person is applying for US citizenship from outside the country through consular processing, they need not file the form. In this case, they may be asked to present a completed DS-5540 (Public Charge Questionnaire) at the interview before the Visa application.

There are a few grounds that exempt people from public charge grounds of inadmissibility. Those applicants falling in those categories are not required to fill the form.

How To Complete Form I-944

Form I-1944 is a complex and lengthy questionnaire that requires applicants to fill out extensive details about themselves and their families. Before filling the form, applicants must ensure that they are filling out the latest version. 

The form should either be typed or filled out in black ink, and it is advisable to keep a few copies of it before submitting it. Ensure that all fields that are not optional are filled out, even those where the answer may not be applicable.

Information About You

This section of the form requires the applicant to fill out basic and straightforward information: name, date/place of birth, and other fundamental identifiers.

Other details such as the Alien Registration Number (given by the USCIS) and USCIS Online account number also have to be provided. This can be found through any piece of communication with the USCIS and the applicant’s online account.

Family Status

Here, the applicant must fill out the information about themselves and their household, i.e., the people they live with under the same roof. The USCIS reviews family status to determine public charge inadmissibility.

For each of the following individuals, full name, date of birth, and other basic information, including the alien registration number (if any), must be provided. Children applying must also provide the same details about themselves and their guardian(s) and members of their guardian(s) household.

An adult applicant is required to provide details of the following individuals:

  • The applicant
  • Spouse (If married and physically residing together)
  • Children (unmarried and under the age of 21, if physically living together)
  • Dependent individuals (other children, etc.). Must also specify the number
  • Other individuals dependent on federal tax return
  • Individuals that provide the applicant with over 50% financial support
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You And Your Household Members’ Assets, Resources, And Financial Status

Under this section, the applicant has to provide information about their assets, resources, and financial status. The USCIS considers these factors while determining public charge ground inadmissibility.

The applicant will also have to list their annual gross income and household members and (total) income from the most recent federal income tax.

The applicant will also have to provide information about any additional income not included in tax returns and explain if the income came from any illegal activity.

Other information about assets (vehicles, real estate), health insurance, credit report and score, liabilities and debts, and whether or not the applicant has applied (or received) for public benefits have to be listed.      

Your Education and Skills

Here, the applicant is required to provide information regarding education, skills, and employment prospects. Details about the high school, colleges, diplomas have to be listed out in this section, along with transcripts for evidence.

The applicant must also list relevant occupational skills, languages spoken, certifications and licenses, and diplomas and degrees.

Employment and unemployment information will be reviewed from Form I-485.

Declarant’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

Once the applicant has completed the form, they must sign it. A signature and date must be on every declaration.

Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

The contact information of the interpreter who helped fill the form must be filled in this section. 

Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Individual Preparing this Declaration, if other than the Declarant

This section required the signature of the attorney, family member, or other counsel who assisted the applicant in filling the form. If the applicant did not receive help, they might write N/A.

Signature at Interview

This portion of the form will be completed at the applicant’s interview with the USCIS officer.

Additional Information

This section is provided if the applicant needs extra space to provide additional information that they could not fit in the space provided above. In case the applicant wants to add more information, they must use photocopies of the same sheet. Regular paper is not accepted by the USCIS.

I-944 Supporting Documents Checklist

The applicant must submit a supporting document for every detail listed in income, assets, bank statements, health insurance, education, etc. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the required documents are cross-checked thoroughly with the corresponding section.

Where To File Form I-944

Form I-944 can be submitted online with the USCIS along with the Form I-485 Green Card application.

Form I-944 Fees

Form I-944 does not have a fee. The applicant is only required to pay extra for postal or courier services if they choose to mail their application. A fee is not charged even when the applicant is submitting a new green card application based on adjustment of status.

Conclusion

Form I-944 is quite tedious and extensive and is also known to have quite a long waiting time. The wait may even be extended by several months if gaps are found and supporting documents aren’t in order.

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