What Financial Documents Do I Need to Provide Under the Public Charge Rule?


Find out the requirements for taxes, assets, debts, and liabilities when applying for a green card


What are the financial requirements under the new public charge rule?


Under the public charge rule, which went into effect earlier this year, green card applicants need to provide numerous financial documents as part of their application. The U.S. government wants to see evidence that would-be immigrants have the financial means to support themselves when living in the United States, and therefore won’t become dependent on public benefits. It’s vital to provide the required financial documents; if officials decide you’re likely to become a public charge, they could deny your green card application.

In this guide, you will learn about:

  1. Which immigration forms require financial statements
  2. Who needs to provide financial evidence
  3. Tax returns and proof of income
  4. Types of assets and supporting documents
  5. Types of debts and supporting documents
  6. Credit report and credit score

Immigration forms can be complex and confusing. Boundless makes it easy to complete your application by turning all the government requirements into simple questions you can easily answer online. Learn more, or get started now!


Not sure if you qualify for a marriage-based green card?
Start by checking your eligibility.


Which Immigration Forms Require Financial Statements?


When applying for a green card, the U.S. government wants to get a full picture of your and your spouse’s financial situation. This guide will focus on the two public charge-related forms: Form I-944 (officially called the “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency”) which applies to applicants filing from within the United States, and Form DS-5540 (officially called the “Public Charge Questionnaire”), which applies to applicants filing from outside the United States.

IMPORTANT: This guide only covers the financial requirements for public charge-related forms. Note that the sponsoring spouse will need to provide financial evidence as part of the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). Learn more about what’s needed for that form here.

Boundless can guide you through the entire marriage green card application process. Read more about what you get with Boundless, or get started today.


Who Needs to Provide Financial Evidence?


Almost anyone applying for a green card will need to provide evidence of their financial status as part of their green card application. For both forms I-944 and DS-5540, the spouse seeking a green card will need to provide financial statements regarding any assets, debts, and liabilities. These forms are used to prove the applicant’s financial stability, rather than the sponsor’s. The form’s intent is to determine whether the applicant is more likely than not to need to use public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period.

There is one important difference between the two forms: Along with the applicant, anyone considered a household member needs to provide evidence of any assets, debts, and liabilities with Form I-944. This is not a requirement for the DS-5540.

There are some categories of immigrants that are exempt from the public charge rule, and don’t need to file Form I-944 or Form DS-5540. These include applicants seeking a green card on humanitarian grounds, through family ties to a deceased U.S. soldier, through special programs such as the Cuban Adjustment Act, or as a victim of a crime. Check the form instructions for full details.

With Boundless, you get the confidence of an independent immigration attorney who will review all of your materials and answer any questions you have — for no additional fee. Learn more about how we can help you, or get started now!


Tax Returns and Proof of Income


The spouse seeking a green card is required to provide evidence that they have filed taxes and earn an income. The requirements differ slightly for each form.

Form I-944

Tax Transcripts, Returns, and Proof of Income

Document TypeExamples of Acceptable Documents Who needs it?
Proof of tax filing
  • Copy of U.S. federal income tax return transcript from the most recent filing year
  • Exemption letter if no taxes were filed
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member

Form DS-5540

Tax Transcripts, Returns, and Proof of Income

Document TypeExamples of Acceptable Documents Who needs it?
Proof of tax filing
  • Copy of U.S. federal income tax return transcript or copy of the complete, filed tax return from the most recent filing year
  • Copy of foreign tax return if no U.S. taxes were filed
  • Exemption letter if no taxes were filed
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States 
Proof of income
  • Pay stubs from the past six months
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States 
Proof of employmentSpouse seeking a green card from outside the United States 

Boundless makes it easy to complete your green card application. We turn all the required forms for your situation into simple questions you can answer in a short amount of time — typically under two hours. Learn more, or get started now!


Types of Assets and Supporting Documents


The spouse seeking a green card will need to list their household’s assets and resources — in other words, not the money they earn each year, but the value of the savings, property, and other things that they own. They are only allowed to include assets that they could sell (or liquidate and turn into cash) within 12 months.

Types of assets might include bank accounts, stocks and investments, and houses or real estate. The applicant needs to provide evidence of their assets, such as bank statements or property deeds.

Below you’ll find a detailed list of the types of assets an applicant can include, as well as the value calculations and acceptable forms of evidence of those assets.

Note: All values must be in U.S. dollars. To determine the exchange rate of non-U.S. currency to U.S. dollars, use an online currency converter such as XE.

NOTE TO BOUNDLESS CUSTOMERS FILING FORM DS-5540: Customers who have been instructed to submit their application through the NVC CEAC portal do not need to include the following documents with their application. Rather, they need to bring these documents to the green card interview. However, Boundless customers who are direct filing do need to include the following documents with their application.

Form I-944

Assets, Documents, and Value Calculation:

Asset TypeValue CalculationSupporting DocumentsWho needs it?
Checking accountEnding balance on latest statement
  • 12 months of statements
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Savings accountEnding balance on latest statement
  • 12 months of statements
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
AnnuityTotal net value = value of asset on “maturity date” (when the final payment, including the principal and interest earned on the asset, is paid)

Typically, fees or penalties may apply when certain assets are withdrawn ahead of the maturity date, resulting in a lower value than the total net value.

This information is typically found on a statement, the asset owner’s online account, or their contract summary.

  • The annuity contract
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Stocks and/or bondsCurrent value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
  • Statements showing the buying or selling of the stock or bond, if applicable
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Certificate of Deposit (CD)Current value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Retirement account, including:
  • IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Simple IRA
  • 401(k)
Total net value = value of asset on “maturity date” (when the final payment, including the principal and interest earned on the asset, is paid)
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Education savings account, including:
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account, or “ESA” (formerly called “Education IRA”)
  • 529 College Savings Plan
  • Custodial Account (UGMA/UTMA)
Current value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Real estateNet value = appraised value of the property minus any outstanding mortgage, liens, or debts on the property
  • Property title or deed showing the name of the owner
  • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser
  • Statements showing the amounts of all loans secured by a mortgage, trust deed, or other lien on the home, if any
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member
Extra car (spouse seeking a green card must have at least two cars, one of which will not be listed as an asset)Net value = Kelley Blue Book value minus any outstanding liens or debts on the vehicleSpouse seeking a green card from within the United States + any other household member

Form DS-5540

Assets, Documents, and Value Calculation:

Asset TypeValue CalculationSupporting DocumentsWho needs it?
Checking accountEnding balance on latest statement
  • 12 months of statements
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Savings accountEnding balance on latest statement
  • 12 months of statements
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
AnnuityTotal net value = value of asset on “maturity date” (when the final payment, including the principal and interest earned on the asset, is paid)

Typically, fees or penalties may apply when certain assets are withdrawn ahead of the maturity date, resulting in a lower value than the total net value.

This information is typically found on a statement, the asset owner’s online account, or their contract summary.

  • The annuity contract
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Stocks and/or bondsCurrent value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
  • Statements showing the buying or selling of the stock or bond, if applicable
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Certificate of Deposit (CD)Current value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Retirement account, including:
  • IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Simple IRA
  • 401(k)
Total net value = value of asset on “maturity date” (when the final payment, including the principal and interest earned on the asset, is paid)
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Education savings account, including:
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account, or “ESA” (formerly called “Education IRA”)
  • 529 College Savings Plan
  • Custodial Account (UGMA/UTMA)
Current value on latest statement
  • Most recent account statement
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Real estateNet value = appraised value of the property minus any outstanding mortgage, liens, or debts on the property
  • Property title or deed showing the name of the owner
  • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser
  • Statements showing the amounts of all loans secured by a mortgage, trust deed, or other lien on the home, if any
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Extra car (spouse seeking a green card must have at least two cars, one of which will not be listed as an asset)Net value = Kelley Blue Book value minus any outstanding liens or debts on the vehicleSpouse seeking a green card from outside the United States

Boundless can help you stay on top of interview preparation and every other important milestone in the green card process. Let’s go!


Types of Debts and Supporting Documents


The spouse seeking a green card will also need to list their liabilities and debts, and include supporting evidence. This might include credit card statements, car loans, mortgages, outstanding child support payments or tax bills, or any other debts that they owe to other people or institutions.

Below you’ll find a detailedlist of the types of debts and liabilities an applicant should include, as well as the value calculations and acceptable forms of evidence.

Note: All values must be in U.S. dollars. To determine the exchange rate of non-U.S. currency to U.S. dollars, use an online currency converter such as XE.

NOTE TO BOUNDLESS CUSTOMERS FILING FORM DS-5540: Customers who have been instructed to submit their application through the NVC CEAC portal do not need to include the following documents with their application. Rather, they need to bring these documents to the green card interview. However, Boundless customers who are direct filing do need to include the following documents with their application.

Form I-944

Financial Liabilities and Documents:

Liability or Debt TypeSupporting DocumentsWho needs it?
Mortgages
  • Most recent mortgage statement
  • Evidence of ongoing, on-time mortgage payments (payment summary)
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Car Loans
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Credit card debt
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Education-related loans (student loans)
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States
Unpaid taxes
  • IRS bill
  • IRS payment plan
  • Evidence of payments
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Liens
  • Copy of judgement or order creating the lien (for example, a Notice of Federal tax lien, deed of trust (mortgage lender’s lien), or other court order)
  • Payment receipts
  • Release of lien document, if applicable, to show lien paid off
  • Final mortgage pay-off statement showing release of lien, if applicable
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Personal Loans
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States
Unpaid Child Support
  • Images of cleared checks from payor’s bank and/or money-order receipts (if payments are made directly to child’s other parent or legal guardian)
  • Pay stubs from employer showing wage garnishment or deduction (if court ordered this payment method)
  • Receipts from child-support agency (if payments are not made directly to child’s other parent or legal guardian)
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 
Unpaid Alimony or Spousal Support
  • Images of cleared checks from payor’s bank and/or money-order receipts
  • Receipts (signed by the ex-spouse recipient) for cash payments
Spouse seeking a green card from within the United States 

Form DS-5540

Financial Liabilities and Documents:

Liability or Debt TypeSupporting DocumentsWho needs it?
Mortgages
  • Most recent mortgage statement
  • Evidence of ongoing, on-time mortgage payments (payment summary)
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Car Loans
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Credit card debt
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Education-related loans (student loans)
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Unpaid taxes
  • IRS bill
  • IRS payment plan
  • Evidence of payments
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Liens
  • Copy of judgement or order creating the lien (for example, a Notice of Federal tax lien, deed of trust (mortgage lender’s lien), or other court order)
  • Payment receipts
  • Release of lien document, if applicable, to show lien paid off
  • Final mortgage pay-off statement showing release of lien, if applicable
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Personal Loans
  • Most recent statement
  • Payment summary
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Unpaid Child Support
  • Images of cleared checks from payor’s bank and/or money-order receipts (if payments are made directly to child’s other parent or legal guardian)
  • Pay stubs from employer showing wage garnishment or deduction (if court ordered this payment method)
  • Receipts from child-support agency (if payments are not made directly to child’s other parent or legal guardian)
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States
Unpaid Alimony or Spousal Support
  • Images of cleared checks from payor’s bank and/or money-order receipts
  • Receipts (signed by the ex-spouse recipient) for cash payments
Spouse seeking a green card from outside the United States

Not sure if you qualify for a marriage-based green card? You can check your eligibility through Boundless without providing any personal or financial information. When you’re ready to apply, Boundless can guide you through every milestone of the marriage-based green card process. Learn more, or get started today.


Credit Report and Credit Score


If you’re applying from within the United States, using Form I-944, you’ll need to provide details about your credit record and your credit score. Note that applicants filing from outside the United States, using Form DS-5540, do not need to submit a U.S. or international credit report.

Your credit report is a record of your history of repaying your debts. Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 and tells a lender how reliably you

You can order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 main credit agencies. Applicants only need to include one copy from a single agency with their I-944.

If an applicant recently arrived in the United States, they should provide their non-U.S. credit report. If they haven’t used credit cards or taken on financial debt, they might not have a credit report or a credit score. In that case, they may include other information – such as bills they’ve paid on time – to show they are financially reliable. Applicants may want to take a screenshot showing that they at least tried to get a credit report from one of the 3 credit agencies.

If an applicant has any negative items on their credit report, such as unpaid bills or debts, or a credit score below 580, then they should include a written statement explaining the situation.

With Boundless, you get the peace of mind that comes with having an independent immigration attorney who answers your confidential questions and reviews your entire green card application — for no additional fee. Ready to start? Learn more about what you get with Boundless, or check your eligibility now.