IMPORTANT UPDATE — July 31, 2020: On July 29, 2020, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from continuing to enforce its “public charge” rules while the United States is under a national public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new public charge rule, you’re required to provide supporting documents, such as bank statements and health insurance coverage, to prove you will be financially self-sufficient once in the United States.
In this guide, we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about the new evidence U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) —as well as the State Department—requires with a green card application.
Note that the supporting documents needed will vary depending on where you’re based. Learn more here on what supporting documents are required if you’re applying from within the United States, and read more here for the documents needed if you’re applying from outside the United States.
In this guide we’ll cover FAQs related to:
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What do I do if I don’t have a U.S. credit report or credit score?
If you don’t have a U.S. credit report, you must provide No. 1 below, plus at least one of the next three (Nos. 2–4):
- Confirmation from FreeCreditScore.com that you do not have a U.S. credit report or score. (Go to FreeCreditScore.com, request a report and score, and take a screenshot or save a digital copy of the confirmation page. Please note that this option requires signup for a free account.)
- Copies of statements of continued payment of bills, such as for water, electricity, or phone service from within the United States or while living in a country other than the United States. This can include copies of the bill payment, such as a copy of the check paid to the service provider, bank statements showing the payment transaction, screenshots of the payment confirmation page from the service provider’s website, or a payment confirmation email.
- A signed and dated “Statement of No Credit Score in the US,” giving “no Social Security Number” as the reason.
- A credit score from your home country (plus a a certified English translation, if not already in English). Note: A non-U.S. credit score is optional and would need to be accompanied by a foreign equivalency document.
What if I have no bill pay history?
If you don’t have a phone or utility bill history to show, include a variety of other bill payments if possible. These can include bills for subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu or a meal delivery service. USCIS is looking for evidence of reliable, on-time payment of bills to show financial stability.
What if I can’t find my high school diploma but I have a higher education degree?
You must provide evidence of any degrees or certifications received. This includes transcripts, diplomas, degrees, and trade profession certificates. If you don’t have these documents, you should give an explanation and, if possible, include a letter from the school or college you attended.
If I am currently a student at a U.S. higher education institution, is it still necessary for me to include an evaluation of equivalency for my foreign degree?
Since your U.S. degree is not completed, include your undergraduate degree with an equivalency evaluation. We understand this takes additional time, but it is less time than if USCIS requests additional information about your degree after filing, which could cause longer delays.
Do I need a foreign equivalency evaluation if I completed my high school education abroad, but my undergraduate and graduate degrees are from the United States?
Yes, all foreign education requires an equivalency report even if you have completed secondary education in the United States.
Could you please confirm that a graduate of certification from my high school and college will be sufficient, if I cannot find my diplomas?
If the diploma is not available, other evidence (such as a graduate certificate) could theoretically be used. If you have no evidence of your high school graduation, you should provide an explanation and if possible, a letter from the high school. Note: Depending on the equivalency company you use, they may require your actual high school diploma.
Is a general evaluation enough or do I need a general evaluation with a grade average?
Equivalency companies typically offer 2 options when evaluating your non-U.S. degree: A general evaluation, which includes the U.S. equivalent of your studies, or a course-by-course evaluation, which includes a U.S. equivalent grade for each course. USCIS has not specified which evaluation is required, so a general evaluation should suffice.
If I own a house that I use as a rental property, do I list it as both an asset and additional income on my application form?
A house owned by you or your spouse that you rent out should be listed as a real estate asset, but the rental income does not need to be listed as additional income. The rental income is taxed and reflected on your federal income tax returns.
I want to list my house as an asset. Is it okay if I use the original appraisal report from when I purchased the property, or do I need to have the house appraised again?
Although USCIS has not provided a minimum number of months for a “recent appraisal report,” your appraisal should be within the last 6 months.
Do I need to report all my assets, including foreign assets, or would reporting only my U.S. assets be enough?
It counts heavily in your favor if you have a household with income, assets or resources of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). For example, the FPG for a household of 2 is $17,240, so having a household with a minimum income and assets of $43,100 would give you an advantage. With this in mind, you can decide if you want to include your foreign assets. If you do, any documents not in English would need to be translated.
The U.S. government requires a USD (U.S. dollar) conversion of the most recent statement of each non-U.S. asset that is not valued in USD. You can obtain a USD conversion from https://www.xe.com/, and take a screenshot of the conversion to satisfy the U.S. government’s documentation requirement.
I just got a job that starts in the next couple of weeks. Are there any documents that I need to include to reflect my employment status?
Although Form I-944 doesn’t explicitly ask about employment, the point of the form is to prove that you will be financially stable in the United States. Therefore, including a letter from your employer, with job title, salary, and start date is a good idea. If you will receive health insurance through your employer, consider having that mentioned in the employment letter.
If you’re unable to get your tax return transcript for a particular filing year, you instead need to provide a signed affidavit (written statement) explaining why you’re unable to obtain the transcript and that you’ll keep attempting to access it in order to bring it to your green card interview. In addition to the affidavit, you’ll need to provide a screenshot of the IRS website that shows your transcript is inaccessible through the IRS “Get Transcript” tool.
My current health insurance will expire soon and I won’t have insurance after that. Should I still submit proof of my current health insurance?
Provide details of your health insurance plan even if it’s going to expire soon. It is always considered a positive to have health insurance, and a negative not to unless you can show you have the ability to pay for future medical costs once in the United States. It’s possible you will be asked about your current health insurance coverage at your green card interview.
If you’re looking for suitable coverage that will meet the new requirements, Visitors Coverage provides a number of short-term travel insurance options, while eHealth offers full service and major health care plans.
Disclosure: Boundless may earn a referral fee if you decide to purchase a product or service after clicking a link to one of our partner providers.
Can I purchase a supplemental policy for emergency issues and use that, or do I need a more expensive Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant policy which covers preventative care?
The policy does not need to be ACA-compliant. USCIS simply wants to see some type of coverage, as that reduces the overall risk of government assistance.
How do I prove that I’m proficient in English?
If you’re a native English speaker, you can include your high school diploma or college transcript showing that you took an English class or that the language of instruction was English. You can also provide evidence of an English proficiency test like Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). If you’re not sufficiently proficient in English, learn more here about your options.
If I am fluent in another language in addition to English, do I need to provide proof of this?
Speaking additional languages counts in your favor (although not speaking other languages isn’t considered a negative factor). For example, if you are from Germany and you’d like to list German as a language on your application forms, you can include transcripts showing you took a class that was taught in German. Make sure to provide an English translation if needed.