The Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency is a tool used by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to scrutinize foreign nationals applying for adjustment of status (“green cards”) by determining if the applicant is, or is likely at any time to become, a “Public Charge” meaning that, given the totality of the person’s circumstances, it is probable that they will receive one or more public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36 month period after becoming a permanent resident.
Family and Employment-based Adjustment of Status applicants are subject to the Public Charge rule.
The following categories of applicants are exempt:
DHS will assess Public Charge based on the following factors:
Examples of heavily weighted positive factors include:
Examples of heavily weighted negative factors include:
Applicants must submit evidence for each factor to prove they will not become a Public Charge in the future.
If DHS deems the applicant to be a Public Charge, the applicant must submit Form I-945 with a $25 filing fee and must pay a bond determined by DHS of at least $8,100. This can be in the form of a cash or surety bond. The purpose of the bond is to ensure that the applicant does not become a Public Charge; if the bond is breached, the U.S. government will request payment.
The Public Charge regulations published by DHS and the Department of State (“DOS”) went into effect on February 24, 2020. The regulations require that applicants for adjustment of status in the U.S. who are not exempt from a Public Charge assessment submit Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency and applicants for immigrant visas at US Consulates abroad who are not exempt submit Form DS-5540 Public Charge Questionnaire.
The Public Charge regulations are currently being litigated in federal court and have undergone numerous changes since they took effect on February 24. As of the date of this alert, the Public Charge regulations apply as follows:
For Adjustment of Status applications:
For Consular Processing of Immigrant Visas at Overseas Posts:
For comprehensive information on the Public Charge rule, see https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-8-part-g.
 For comprehensive information regarding the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility, including a full list of individuals who are exempt from the Public Charge rule, see https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-8-part-g.