Are you at risk of being called a public charge? What does that even mean?
The US has long had a requirement that anyone immigrating to the country demonstrate that they would not become a "public charge," meaning that they could support themselves and not rely on public assistance. Until this year, an intending immigrant could generally demonstrate that s/he/they would not become a public charge by showing that s/he/they hadn't received any money from the government for living expenses in the previous 12 months.
Earlier this year, USCIS imposed a greater burden on applicants to demonstrate that they had the funds available to support themselves and would not become a “public charge” at any time in this country. This increased burden shifted the showing from a purely historical one to a future perspective. To demonstrate self-sufficiency, USCIS began requiring a new form: I-944. The form to demonstrate financial stability is long and onerous, requiring evidence of the applicant’s tax returns, bank accounts, and all other positive factors to demonstrate that the immigrant will not be using public resources while in the United States.
The courts have reviewed this change a number of times and the need to submit the new form has changed almost daily. At the end of October, the court held that the form was not necessary, however, as of November 4, an appellate court stated that USCIS could use the form.
Both the fees required for filing forms for immigration benefits and the forms themselves change rapidly in this administration, often times with little notice. Please check in if you are thinking about these types of applications so that we can discuss the current requirements with you.