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Basics of the Declaration of Self Sufficiency (I-944)

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How will the I-944 affect the adjudication of applications for adjustment of status?

Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. In this video, we're going to talk about specifically the I-944. I'm going to be referring to my notes again because like I said, this stuff is hot off the presses and there are a lot of changes and we're going to talk about how the I-944 declaration of self-sufficiency is going to impact adjustment of status.

The first thing I want to mention is that it's going to affect all adjustment status applicants. No one is going to be immune from these new rules. And one of the points that's being made is that they really want to only allow rich people to sponsor loved ones, that they are greatly increasing the standards on whether or not an immigrant can get a green card and they're going to make it much more difficult. And the main way they're doing that is with this I-944, the declaration of self-sufficiency.

So the first thing conceptually you have to understand is it's going to apply to every case. So we as lawyers are going to have to do a better job of screening our cases. One of the things that certainly is a possibility that if an immigrant is here and they apply for adjustment of status and they are out of status or not in some kind of other immigration status and they get denied for the self-sufficiency problem for it not being able to prove that they have enough money or that they will survive in the United States, there's a very real possibility that when USCA has done adjudicating the case, if they end up denying the case that the person's going to end up in deportation proceedings.

So the Department of Justice is also working on public charge rules to help streamline their deportation of people who fail to satisfy the requirements under the I-944. So, that's one big change that I want to mention.

In the old days, the I-864 was enough to cover the public charge, but that's not going to be enough. The I-864 is the affidavit support, but the affidavit support's going to now take a back burner. It's going to be secondary to this I-944, the declaration of self-sufficiency. Almost everyone's going to have to go ahead and file that I-944 and there's also going to be this possibility that you'll post a bond in order to demonstrate that you're not going to become a public charge. We think that's going to be problematic. It's going to be very difficult.

But the real thing that you needed to consider is do I even want to do this? Can I even do this? Can I demonstrate to the government's satisfaction that I am not going to become a public charge, that if I get a green card that I am going to be able to support myself? And so the way that we see this playing out is historically a US citizen could get a co-sponsor if they didn't make enough money to show that they could support their intending immigrant. But now it's going to be much harder, it's going to be much more, what are the qualifications of the green card applicant? Are they going to be able to work? Are they going to be able to support themselves?

And so it's really going to be a big problem.

But the one thing you have to understand is it does apply to everyone. Now, at the moment it's not applying to overseas immigrant visa cases, but the State Department is rushing to try to get the rule to go into effect on the same day they've asked for exemptions from the OMB and we'll see if that happens. But eventually it's going to happen at the State Department level too.

All right, so the one other thing, maybe the bit of good news that I can share with you is that it doesn't apply to everybody. So it doesn't apply to refugees and asylees. There's exceptions under the U visas and T visas, and it's not going to apply for everybody, but it is going to apply for all family-based immigration. So you're going to have to fill out this I-94. I'm probably going to do a webinar on the I-944, but for now, just know that as of February 24th, 2020 if you want to apply for adjustment of status, you're going to have to complete this I-944. And we really see it as, like I said, a problem.

So we'll go over the machinations of the I-944 itself. It's a very, very lengthy form. It's estimated that it's going to take between six and 10 hours to complete. So just for our purposes at the law firm, we're going to have to raise our fees, which of course is by design. They wanted to make it harder for lower income people to be able to sponsor their loved ones for a green card. And this is a real assault on family-based immigration.

So I hope you found this sad news that I provided helpful. It's not fun shooting these videos, but we want to make sure we get the information out there. That's why I'm resorting to my notes and trying to get as thorough a discussion out there as possible so that you understand what's going on with the public charge. We'll shoot a couple more videos on this, but in the meantime, if you have questions, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at [email protected].

Be sure to join us in our Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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