In March of 2021, USCIS announced that it would no longer enforce the new public charge rule and would revert back to the 1999 guidelines in effect prior to its controversial implementation. Practically speaking, this is arguably the most significant immigration development to come out this year. Unfortunately, prior to this decision, USCIS had mailed out several Requests for Evidences (RFEs) for adjustment cases where it determined that the applicant submitted insufficient financial information. Many of these RFEs requested that the applicant submit a completed I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency or documentation related to the I-944.
Due to this policy, however, applicants hard-pressed to meet the stringent requirements of the I-944 may no longer need to worry. USCIS has announced that individuals who have received a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) requesting information that is solely required under the Public Charge Final Rule — including but not limited to Form I-944 — with a deadline on or after March 9, 2021, are no longer required to respond to those parts of the RFE or NOID pertaining to the Public Charge Rule. In other words, the I-944 will no longer be required for cases where a response is due on or after March 9.
However, that being said, it is critical to distinguish between portions of the RFE or NOID that apply to the Final Public Charge Rule and those that do not. If an RFE or NOID requests evidence or information relating to something other than the I-944 or Final Public Charge Rule, the individual is still expected to reply. If the applicant does not address that aspect, it is quite possible that the I-485 could be denied. For example, if there are deficiencies relating to the I-864 Affidavit of Support, the applicant should still furnish the requested information or documentation relating to that form, as the I-864 is still required, notwithstanding the rescission of the I-944 and the Final Public Charge Rule. It is important to understand that there is still a Public Charge Rule— the only difference being that officers are now directed to follow the criteria and factors outlined in the 1999 guidance, not those from 2020.
If you have received a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, it is critical that it be addressed and responded to properly. Failure to handle these types of situations properly can be disastrous and lead to a denial. If you would like for our office to review your RFE or NOID and determine your options, please contact us.