U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has imposed new requirements to demonstrate financial self-sufficiency for green card applicants and those seeking temporary work status.  The new rules make it easier for the government to deny green cards for potential immigrants who are “likely to use public benefits” in the future.  The new rules also allow the government to deny requests to change or extend temporary status where the applicant/beneficiary has used certain U.S. public benefits on or after February 24, 2020.

Adjustment of Status: Most Adjustment of Status applicants must now complete and submit with their green card applications a new 18-page Declaration of Self-Sufficiency.  The voluminous government form and supporting documentation are required of green card applicants of any age, with very limited exceptions for asylees, refugees, and certain other protected individuals.  The government’s new form requires applicants to disclose information about their personal and household assets, credit score, financial status, debts, public benefits history, and more.  Tax return transcripts and a credit report for each applicant are also required.  The government will assess the totality of the circumstances—including age, health, resources, education, and other factors—to determine whether a green card applicant is likely to use public benefits in the future.  If the government determines a green card applicant is likely to become a public charge, it can deny the green card application or require a waiver or a bond.

Temporary Work Status (H-1B, L-1, TN, O-1, etc.): New rules will also apply to those seeking a change or extension of temporary work status, requiring applicants/beneficiaries to disclose certain public benefits they received on or after February 24, 2020.  Under the new rules, USCIS can deny applications to extend or change nonimmigrant status for individuals who have previously used public benefits over a specific threshold. Applicants are not required to file the Declaration of Self-Sufficiency or submit supporting documents with their applications, unless they have used certain public benefits in the U.S.

Immigrant Visa Applicants outside the U.S.: Individuals applying for green cards and visas from outside the United States will be subject to separate Department of State policies.  These policies are evolving, but are expected to be similar to USCIS’s policies in the United States.

U.S. Citizenship: The new rules generally do not impact naturalization applicants and U.S. citizens.

The government’s new rules are much more restrictive, and will undoubtedly create new hurdles for applicants, their employers, and their immigration counsel.  The new rules are currently subject to lawsuits in federal court, but the Supreme Court has permitted USCIS to implement the rules while litigation is pending.  Dayzad Law Offices will continue to prepare our clients to demonstrate they will not become a public charge, even under the more restrictive new rules.  With the proper documentation and preparation, we are confident our clients will continue to be successful in their immigration matters!