In a startling turn of events, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision last Wed limiting its injunction of the public charge rule to states only within its jurisdiction, namely, Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. As a result, the landscape is suddenly back to what it was before, with adjustment of status applicants in all states, except the aforementioned three within the Second Circuit, technically required to submit the I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency unless they fall within very limited exceptions. Furthermore, USCIS will resume adjudicating and evaluating public charge issues under the new guidelines which were published and implemented earlier this year. (Cases which are filed in the Second Circuit will be handled under the 1999 public charge rules unless the injunction is ultimately lifted.)
This is a significant setback for individuals with marginal financials who were in the process of preparing their cases in accordance with the nationwide injunction. Although official guidance is not yet up on the USCIS website, it is likely that the I-944 will be required. What will happen to cases submitted after the August 12 order without the I-944 is not yet known. It is possible that petitions may be rejected; issued a Request for Evidence; or conceivably denied for failure to submit all required forms.
It is also worth noting that despite the above, not all applicants for adjustment will be required to submit a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency. There are certain classes which are exempt including but not limited to:
- VAWA Self Petitioners
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Certain Afghan or Iraqi nationals
- Asylee and Refugee applicants
- U visa applicants
- Human trafficking (T visa) applicants
- Applicants applying under the Cuban Adjustment Act
These are just some categories that are technically exempt by regulation. If you fall within any of the above classes, you will not need to submit an I-944 regardless of any injunction or whether or not it gets lifted. Because the law in this field is changing so rapidly and unpredictably, it would be prudent for any prospective green card applicant to consult with an attorney to review and determine eligibility.
The above is general information only. It is not specific legal advice nor intended to create an attorney client relationship. If you need advice, please consult with an attorney.