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US Immigration: Public Charge Rule and I-944 Form

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the new Public Charge rule that is coming out with respect to US Immigration benefits and what is called the I-944 form and that form is called the Declaration of Self-sufficiency.

So, under the Trump Administration they are taking a much harder line with respect to US Immigration matters and it is now starting to hit us with respect to US family-based immigration.

I previously made a video on this channel regarding the DS-5540 form. That is kind of the sister form to this form the I-944 because this new Public Charge rule creates a real impetus if you will on the applicant to show that they are affirmatively not going to go onto means-tested benefits in the United States. In the past, it was less of an affirmative duty for lack of better term, on the part of the applicant to show that they weren't going to go on means-tested benefits. Instead basically you had the sponsorship requirements and then basically it had to be shown that this person does not pose a risk of ending up on those types of benefits. Now, the burden of proof to me is just substantially higher.

The other thing with respect to this is it creates a great deal of, I hesitate to use the term discretion, but the Adjudicating Officer of an I-944 has to believe that the person applying does not pose a risk of going on to these benefits. I cannot explain the gravity of this enough. This is this is really, really important. The Officer, if they just simply don't feel that the applicant is someone who is not going to go on these benefits, that Officer could deny based on that feeling alone. That is the way I read these regulations. 

So, who is this going to really apply to? For our purposes, most of the folks that watch this channel, we are mostly dealing with US Immigration for family members so we are dealing with like fiancées of American citizens, spouses of American citizens, spouses of lawful permanent residents. The biggest subset of people this is going to apply to and we are going to do specific videos on this topic down the road, but just to truncate it for this video, this is really going to impact those who come in on a K-1 Fiance Visa and then need to adjust status to get their green card in the United States. This new I-944 form is going to come up in that context and you are going to have to be dealing with the I-944 form and everything associated therewith. 

It is really interesting because means-tested benefits have now been expanded (excuse me I am just looking for the exact section of the form where it has the list of benefits. Sorry, we are still dealing with this. This matter is still in a state of flux. This stuff is just coming online. Frankly I have been having to deal with the regulations coming online with respect to Immigrant Visa cases that are coming through out here in Southeast Asia at the Embassies). What are we talking about with respect to things that may be considered a black mark if you will with respect to the I-944? So things like Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;TANF, general assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; SNAP- that is also sometimes referred to as food stamps, Section 8 housing, section 8 project-based rental assistance, public housing under the Housing Act of 1937, Federal Funded Medicaid. It is my understanding as of now, Medicare Part D as well as WIC are not yet on this sort of list if you will and all of this is extremely important. Again I cannot stress the gravity heavily enough.

The biggest issue with respect to these changes is this I hesitate again to use the term discretion but it is a statutory framework under which the Officer needs to believe that the person applying will not go on these benefits in the future. So it is not at the moment of application that this is relevant. That officer needs to be convinced that this prospectively will not happen.  Now, how exactly you prove something that hasn't occurred yet to me that is a difficult thing. That being stated they can make logical inferences based on the evidence presented to them. So I think what is going to happen and going to happen quite soon is adjustment of status cases are going to get substantially for lack of a better term more difficult in the relatively near future or at least they are going to be much more document intensive as a result of this new adjudicatory standard.

So the thing to take away from this video, I think the time involved, the resources involved in adjustment of status moving forward is going to be a lot more substantial than it has been in the past almost exclusively due to not only the public charge rule but this new I-944 Declaration of Statutory Sufficiency and as a result this is just going to be a much bigger can of worms than it once was when adjusting status in the USA.