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USCIS Announces Significant Public Charge Changes to Green Card Applications

The changes to Form I-485 will go into effect on December 23, 2022

Dec 7, 2022

USCIS building

The Biden administration announced that a new version of Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status), which includes a new public charge portion and several additional questions, will be required for all green card applications starting on December 23, 2022.

Following the roll-back of the Trump Administration’s public charge policies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new public charge rule on September 8, 2022, which determines whether green card applicants are inadmissible to the U.S. based on their likelihood to become a public charge. Under this new version of the rule, DHS considers an applicant a public charge risk if they are “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or long-term institutionalization at government expense.” In practice, the new rule means significant changes to Form I-485 that will capture some of the information previously collected under the Trump administration with the discontinued Form I-944 (Declaration of Self Sufficiency).

The final rule is effective December 23, 2022, meaning the new version of Form I-485 will be required for all applications postmarked on or after the effective date. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS’) requirement for the new form version deviates significantly from the grace period it typically provides for form updates.

Based on the preview version of the updated Form I-485 released by USCIS, if an applicant answers “yes” to being subject to public charge ground of inadmissibility on their form, they must provide the following information:

  • Household size
  • Annual household income
  • Total value of household assets
  • Total value of household liabilities
  • Highest degree or level of school completed
  • List of work-related skills, certifications, licenses, educational certificates
  • If an applicant has ever received cash benefit programs for income maintenance
  • If an applicant has ever received long-term institutionalization at the government’s expense

According to USCIS’ preview version of the updated form, no additional supporting documents will be required for the new public charge section.

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