New rules are being applied at the U.S. Embassy to determine if an immigrant visa applicant will be a “public charge.” One of the changes decrease the weight given to the affidavit of support in deciding whether a person is likely to become a public charge. Previously, a qualifying affidavit of support (Form I-864) was generally sufficient to establish that an immigrant visa applicant was not likely to become a public charge.
An affidavit of support still must be submitted, where required, but the weight it carries has diminished. Now, a “properly filed and sufficient Form I-864 may not necessarily overcome a denial on public charge at Embassy interview. Instead, it is merely one, “positive factor” as part of the totality of the circumstances test.
The “totality of the circumstances” involves consideration of other factors such as the applicant’s age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. This test is not new, but the fact that an affidavit of support that meets the financial requirements has been reduced in weight to simply one factor of many is new. A sufficient affidavit of support generally was considered adequate evidence that the person had overcome any public charge concerns. It is now considered only a factor in the assessment of whether an immigrant will be a public charge or dependent on U.S. government benefits such as medicaid or food stamps.
Thereby, expect to see the language below in denial notices for green cards issued by the U.S. Embassy:
Examples of documents to bring to the Embassy interview to overcome public charge at embassy interview:
- For older applicants: health records showing they are in good health despite advanced age
- Proof of private medical insurance, or other proof of how the applicant pays for healthcare
- Proof of on-going relationship with petitioner and joint sponsor (i.e. recent emails, pictures, screenshot of social media post where chatting and interacting)
- If joint sponsor is not related, declaration of joint sponsor briefly explaining their commitment to support the applicant
- Proof of applicant’s job offer or job with decent salary and savings in bank account
- Copies of applicant’s degrees, certificates, licenses, etc. to show education, skills, and overall “employability”
All immigrant visa (green card) applicants appearing for their interview at the U.S. Embassy need to be aware that more documentary evidence (besides a Form I-864 affidavit of support) will be required to prevent a denial based on public charge at embassy interview.
For more information on public charge at embassy interview,
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