How to Fill out Form I-944, Declaration of Self Sufficiency [2020 Guide]
Step-by-step instructions how to fill out the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency and checklist of required documents.
What is the Form I-944?The Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, Form I-944 is a new addition to the green card application process.
It is used by the green card applicants to demonstrate that he or she is not inadmissible based on the ‘public charge’ ground.
Through this form, the USCIS collects details about you and your financial status. This means that the government of the U.S. can deny your green card application, shall you indicate on becoming a public charge anytime in future.
Purpose of the Form I-944Form I-944 is used by USCIS to decide whether an immigrant is likely to be able to support themselves and their household without relying on public benefits.
If you’re confusing the basis of this form with the Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, it is understandable. This is because I-944 is somewhat similar to the I-864.
However, unlike the latter, the new I-944 form provides a snapshot of the applicant’s own financial situation, not that of their sponsor. This means I-944 is more concerned with your financial status as the applicant.
What do you mean by ‘Public Charge’?As doctrined by the USCIS, Form I-944 makes sure that the immigrant applying for a green card visa isn’t inadmissible based on the ‘public charge’ ground.
So what is this ‘public charge’?
Public charge means a person using public benefits and relying on government for financial (and/or medical) support.
The U.S. government wants to be 100% sure that immigrants coming to the United States are generally self-sufficient and will not rely on public resources for support.
The new public charge rule defines public charge as an individual who receives one or more public benefits for more than 12 months, in total, within any 36-month period.
Who Should Submit this Form?You must file this form if you are filing the Form I-485, Adjustment of Status and you are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility:
If you are a foreign-born person submitting an adjustment of status application to USCIS from within the US, then you must fill out Form I-944.
However, if you’re applying from outside the United States via consular processing, you are not required to file this Form. However, applicants may be asked to present a completed DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire, at their visa interview.
If you are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, you do not need to file Form I-944. To see the full list of applicants who are exempt from filing Form I-944, visit this page.
Where to File the Form?The Form I-944 must be filed along with your Form I-485 and all the supporting documents as part of your green card application to USCIS.
You can check the addresses and locations for filing the same, here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-485-addresses
How to Fill Form I-944?Form I-944 is a complex form and requires detailed information about you and the other members of your household.
General Instructions:You should always use the latest version of any USCIS immigration form to prepare your applications, otherwise they will be rejected.
You can download the latest version of Form I-944 here.
Type or print legibly in black ink.
Each declaration on this form must be properly signed and filed. Only if you’re under 14, can your parents/guardians sign the declaration on your behalf.
Submit only legible photocopies of documents requested, unless the instructions specifically state that you must submit an original document.
Part 1: Information About YouThis is a pretty straightforward section and asks for your basic personal information.
Items 1-2: Provide your legal name and a valid U.S. mailing address.
Item 3, Alien Registration Number: Is an identification number issued by the immigration authorities. It will only be assigned if the immigrant has previously applied for a green card or other immigration benefit.
This is the number that you’re assigned when you begin your immigration process.
If as an immigrant you do not have an Alien Registration number, leave it blank.
Item 4, USCIS Online Account Number: The immigrant would have a USCIS online account number only if he or she had created an account online for some immigration-related purpose.
This number is not the same as the Alien Registration Number.
If as an immigrant you do not have the USCIS Online Account Number, leave the field blank.
Items 5-7: You simply need to enter the asked personal details.
Part 2: Family Status (Your Household)USCIS will review your family status as a factor in the public charge inadmissibility determination, which includes an assessment of your household. Here, you’ll list all the members of your household.
If you’re an adult, you need to include the following:
Your spouse, if physically residing with you,
Your children (under 21 and unmarried) physically residing with you,
Any other children under 21 and unmarried, not living with you but you provide 50% of financial support to them, also specifying the amount of financial support provided by you,
Any other individual, dependent on your federal income tax return,
Anyone who gives you at least 50% of your financial support, or who lists you as a dependent on a federal income tax return.
Child applicants must provide a similar list with details about themselves and their parents or guardians, and any other members of their parents’ or guardians’ household.
You must provide full name, date of birth and basic information for each of the persons you list, also indicating their alien registration numbers (if any).
Part 3: Your and Your Household Members’ Assets, Resources and Financial StatusYour assets, resources and financial status are factors considered by the USCIS while deciding whether you are inadmissible based on the public charge ground.
Item 1, Household Income: List your and your household members’ annual gross (total) income from the most recent federal income tax returns, if any.
Your household’s annual gross income should be at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the most recent year.
It should be 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines if you’re on duty, other than in training, in the U.S. Armed Forces.
You must provide an IRS transcript(s) of your Federal income tax returns for the most recent tax year and the IRS transcript(s) of the household members whose income you are including.
If you were not required to file a federal income tax return in any of the prior three tax years, you may provide Form W-2 or a Social Security Statement providing a history of total annual income.
Items 2-5: Amounts earned from any illegal activity will not help show your self-sufficiency.
Items 6-8: If there’s any additional income not included on your tax returns and not listed in Item 1, you can include it here. You’ll need to explain whether any of that money came from illegal activity.
Item 9, Assets: List household assets, like real estate or a second vehicle. They can help raise household income levels. Also, these assets should be converted into cash within 12 months.
Values of your assets must be in U.S. dollars. Make sure to include their legit evidence of value or ownership.
These assets include:
Savings account statements;
Stocks and bonds (cash value)
Retirement and educational accounts
Net cash value of real estate holdings
Any other asset that can be converted into cash
Item 10:Provide a list of all your liabilities or debts, along with their valid documentations. They include:
Unpaid child or spousal support
Credit card debt.
Items 11-14:Provide information about your credit report and score, including whether you’ve ever been in bankruptcy.
Your credit report is a full report on how reliably you repay your debts. Your credit score is a single number that goes up and down depending on how you use credit and repay debts.
You can get a copy of your free credit report from any of the three main U.S. credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) which you can then submit with your I-944.
In case of negative credit report history, like delinquent debts or unpaid bills, then you can include a written statement explaining what happened.
In case of bankruptcy, indicate if you ever filed for bankruptcy. Provide details and evidence that bankruptcy has since been resolved.
Item 15:Here you’ll need to provide information and documentation about your health insurance. Note that a health insurance card is insufficient without effective and expiration dates.
If you have health insurance, provide information including the amount of your premium, along with a documentation of your policy or a letter from your insurer.
If you don’t currently have health insurance, provide evidence that you have either enrolled in coverage or that you’re planning to pay for any healthcare treatment.
The lack of health insurance is a negative factor.
USCIS reviews Form I-693 to determine whether you have a medical condition that will affect your ability to work, attend school, or care for yourself.
Items 16-18:Provide information on any public benefits you’ve received. You must provide the requested information, regardless of amount or duration.
An applicant’s past use or likely future use of any listed benefits for more than 12 months in aggregate over a 36-month period would lead to a denial on public charge grounds.
Only 9 benefit programs will be considered for the purpose of public charge rule. Select the ones that apply.
For benefits received before October 15, 2019, you only need to report receipt of SSI, cash, TANF, General Assistance, and benefits received for long-term institutionalization.
In Item 17, provide evidence of your disenrollment if the public benefit granting agency hasn’t processed your request.
Item 22-25:Even if you haven’t received public benefits, USCIS wants to know whether you applied for it.
If you have used benefits, or if you’re claiming an exemption from the public charge rule, you’ll need to provide full documentation to support your application.
Item 26:Provide details if you’ve ever received a fee waiver when applying for an immigration benefit. Such waivers are based on a low income or other financial hardship.
If yes, explain in writing the reason for waiver and whether your situation has changed, along with the receipt number for the application.
Part 4: Your Education and SkillsUSCIS will review employment and unemployment information you provide on your Form I-485. You’ll provide information regarding your education, your skills, and your employment prospects.
Item 1: If you’re applying for an employment green card and have an approved Form I-140, simply enter the receipt number from your I-140.
Items 2-3: You must list high schools and colleges you’ve attended and submit diplomas and transcripts as supporting evidence.
Item 4: List any relevant occupational skills, including any certifications and licenses, when these were obtained, who issued the certification or license, license numbers, and expiration/renewal date.
Item 5: You’ll need to submit evidence of your language skills, both English and any other languages that you speak. Language certification may include high school diplomas and college degrees.
Item 6: Indicate whether or not you are retired and provide the date of retirement, if applicable, along with income from pensions, social security or other retirement benefits.
Part 5: Declarant’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification and SignatureYou’ll need to sign the form once you’ve completed all the information. Every declaration MUST contain the signature of the declarant.
Part 6: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification and SignatureThis section must be filled by the interpreter, who helps translate the form for you. He/she must sign and date the declaration.
Part 7: Contact Information, Declaration and Signature of the Individual Preparing this Declaration, if other than the DeclarantIf you fill out this form unassisted, write N/A here. If you were assisted by a preparer (attorney, family member, etc.) to fill out these forms, they are required to sign here.
Part 8: Signature at InterviewDo not complete this part. The USCIS Officer will ask you to complete this part at your interview.
Part 9: Additional InformationIf you need extra space to provide any additional information within this declaration, use the space provided here. You can also make copies of this section, for extra space.
Once you’re done filling out the form, go through the USCIS instructions carefully, to determine the implications of the information you provided, and to make sure you’re attaching all relevant documents.
Checklist of Supporting DocumentsWhile filing Form I-944, will need to provide proof of the following:
Proof of income, like tax returns
Proof of assets, like property deeds or bank statements
Evidence of every information you list in the form
Proof of education, job offers, and health insurance.
If the supporting documents are not available, you must write a statement explaining why. It is advised you double check each instruction listed on the I-944 to make sure you’ve included all the documents you need.
Additional resourcesFor more guides, follow the links below.