Path to green card now harder

USCIS publishes revised forms on public charge grounds final rule

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has come out with new forms in connection with the implementation of its inadmissibility on public charge grounds final rule, making it more difficult for lower-income immigrants to adjust their immigration status and obtain a “green card” or have their residency status approved.

A public charge is a person who receives government cash assistance for income or long-term care. That means one who received food stamps or Medicare, among other government-funded benefits.

Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments about the public grounds final rule from Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) but he has yet to reply as of press time.

Sablan earlier stated that the Trump administration can now deny extensions or deport CW-1 workers, E2-CNMI investors, and green card applicants, if deemed likely to become a public charge.

USCIS said the revised forms are consistent with the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which the U.S. Homeland Security, including USCIS, will implement starting later this month.

Starting Feb. 24, for any new application to adjust status, applicants and petitioners (except in Illinois where the final rule remains enjoined by a federal court) must use new editions of 12 forms.

In addition, applicants for adjustment of status subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility and the final rule will be required to submit Form I-944 or Declaration of Self-Sufficiency. This is a new form that was never required before.

Under I-944, applicants are required, among other things, to provide information about their assets, resources, and financial status, as well as the assets, resources, and financial status of all other household members. It used to be that USCIS only asked for the information of the petitioner; the new form now also wants the information of the petitioner’s family members.

The applicants and their household members are also required to provide information about credit history, health insurance, list of liabilities and/or debts, credit report and score, education and skills, and public benefits.

On public benefits, the question is asked if the applicants or their household members ever received, or are currently certified to receive in the future public benefits.

The benefits listed are the following:

• Any federal, state, local or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance;

• Supplemental Security Income;

• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;

• General Assistance;

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP called “food stamps”);

• Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program;

• Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation);

• Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937;

• Federally-funded Medicaid.

This new rule is expected to affect many foreign workers in the Commonwealth.

USCIS said certain classes of aliens (such as refugees, asylees, petitioners under the federal Violence Against Women Act, and certain T and U visa applicants) are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and therefore not subject to the inadmissibility on public charge grounds final rule.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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