The Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, Form I-944, is a new form that the USCIS requires applicants for permanent residence to submit. It is designed to allow immigration authorities to determine whether you are likely to become a “public charge” in the future (a “public charge” is someone who relies primarily on government benefits to support themselves). Anyone who the USCIS believes is more likely than not to become a public charge in the future will be denied permanent residence.
Form I-944 is 15 pages long (including instructions), and it requires you to provide detailed information about your age, family status, health, finances, credit history and other matters. You may need to submit extensive documentation with Form I-944 in order to prove that you will not become a “public charge” while in the United States.
Please note that the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), submitted by your sponsor if your immigration category requires a sponsor, may also be considered in determining whether you are likely to become a “public charge”.
Who Needs to File?
According to the USCIS, anyone attempting to adjust their status to permanent resident must file Form I-944 along with Form I-485, unless they are exempted from the “public charge” test by statute. Certain narrow classes of immigrants such as refugees, asylees and holders of “T” and “U” visas are exempt from the obligation to prove they will not become a “public charge.”
The USCIS is responsible for adjudicating applications for permanent residence filed within the US. The US State Department, however, handles applications filed from outside the US, and the State Department does not require Form I-944. Nevertheless, if you are applying for permanent residence from abroad, the State Department might require you to provide equivalent information.
Form I-944 requires you to provide the following information (this is an incomplete list, however):
- Your name, address and date of birth;
- Your Alien Registration Number (if any);
- Your city and country of birth as well as your citizenship or nationality;
- The people residing in your household, and whether you are responsible for their financial support;
- The name of any person who provides you with at least 50 percent financial support;
- Your household income;
- Your assets and liabilities;
- Your credit report, including your credit score;
- Any bankruptcies;
- Details of your health insurance policy, if any;
- Your receipt of any public benefits, including non-cash benefits;
- Any applications for, or grants of, immigration fee waivers based on financial hardship;
- Your education and occupational and language skills;
- Whether you are retired and whether you are receiving any pensions or other retirement benefits;
- Details of any interpreter who helped you read the form or helped you fill it out; and
- Additional information that you may feel is relevant.
Following is a brief description of some of the evidence that you may be required to provide. The USCIS may demand evidence that is not on this list as well. Remember that you do not have to submit any evidence that you are already submitting for Form I-485 (you need not provide two copies of your birth certificate, for example).
- Your tax returns;
- Evidence of home ownership, if you own one;
- Evidence of your assets and their values;
- Your credit report;
- A copy of your health insurance policy;
- Evidence of your receipt of public benefits;
- Documentation of any occupation qualifications such as school transcripts or professional licenses;
- Certified English translations of any documents not originally written in English;
- Other materials as relevant or requested by the USCIS.
There is no filing fee for Form I-944.