Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an individual could be denied a visa to the U.S. or a green card if the U.S. Government believes that he or she is likely to require government assistance (i.e., a public charge).

As of February 24, 2020, USCIS will consider an applicant a public charge if he or she is likely to require a broader range of certain government benefit programs for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period.

These benefits include: Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); State or local general relief or general assistance; Institutionalization for long-term care; Medicaid[1]; Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps); Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program; Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance; and, Public Housing.

USCIS Eligibility Factors

For this reason, USCIS will be looking at a multitude of factors to determine if someone is more likely than not to go on one of these benefits programs in the future including: age, health, employment history, education, use of public benefits in the past, fee waiver applications, bankruptcy, and family size. For this reason, USCIS is requesting additional evidence to demonstrate that an immigrant will not become a public charge in the future.

As part of proper preparation for an immigration case, you may be asked to provide additional supporting documents and evidence by an attorney or paralegal for you and your family members.  These documents include:

Public assistance

If you have ever received, currently receive, or are currently certified to receive any public benefit(s), as listed in questionnaire: letter(s), notice(s), certification(s), or other agency documents that contain:

  • Your name;
  • Name and contact information for public benefit granting agency;
  • Type of public benefit;
  • Date you began receiving the benefit or, if certified, date you will start receiving public benefits;
  • Date benefit ends or expires.

If disenrolled from public benefit(s)

Documentation demonstrating confirmation of such disenrollment or, if agency has not processed your request(s), a copy of your disenrollment request(s)

If public benefit(s) withdrawn

Documentation demonstrating that the agency received your withdrawal request

If public benefit(s) denied/rejected

Documentation demonstrating that the agency denied/rejected your request

If you do not qualify for public benefits

Documentation from a federal, state, or tribal agency that administers public benefits stating that you do not or would not qualify for such public benefit by virtue of your circumstances, such as annual gross household income or immigration status.

Family Status

Documentation regarding the household members, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and/or affidavits to establish relationships.

Financial Status

IRS Transcript(s) of your federal income tax returns for the last 3 years.

Household Member(s)’ IRS Transcript(s) for most recent federal tax return

If tax returns are unavailable

Copy of W-2s for the last 3 years or if W-2s are not available, pay stubs.

Social Security Statement providing history or annual income for yourself or household member(s), if applicable

Child support order(s) and/or agreement(s), custody order(s) and/or agreement(s), or any other order(s) and/or agreement(s), if applicable

Your foreign tax transcripts/returns for most recent year, if applicable;

Household member(s)’ foreign tax transcripts/returns for most recent year, if applicable;

Documentation of any nontaxable income received by yourself and/or household member(s) that was not included in most recent tax return, such as:

  • Consistent and regular support from adult children, parents, dependents, or other people living in the household or not living in the household;
  • Gifts received under $15,000;
  • Child support;
  • Educational assistance up to $5,250;
  • Social Security benefits (depending on income level); and
  • Veteran’s disability benefits.

If gross household income is less than 125% of FPG

Documentation of assets/resources held by you and/or household member(s), whether inside OR outside the United States, that can be readily converted into cash within 12 months. Please find a non-exhaustive list of examples and accompanying documentation:

  • Home/Property/Real Estate Holdings Ownership
    • Documentation demonstrating your OR household member’s ownership of the property, such as the title document;
    • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser; and
    • Documentation evidencing amount(s) of any loan(s) secured on the property, such as a mortgage, trust deed, or other lien if applicable.
  • Automobile Ownership
    • Documentation demonstrating your OR household member’s ownership of the vehicle, such as a certificate of title; and
    • Documentation evidencing amount of any loan(s) secured on the vehicle, if applicable.
  • Checking, Savings, Retirement, and/or Educational Account(s) Ownership
    • Account statements covering at least 12 months prior to filing
  • Annuities Ownership
    • Copy of the contract and/or documentation demonstrating payments received thereon
  • Stocks, Bonds (with cash value), and Certificate(s) of Deposit Ownership
    • Copies of evidencing title to any stock(s), bond(s), and certificate(s) of deposit demonstrating ownership and the instrument’s cash value
  • Any other evidence of substantial assets that can be easily converted into cash.

Documentation of your liabilities and/or debts held by you, both inside and outside the United States. Please find a non-exhaustive list of examples and accompanying documentation:

  • Mortgage(s)
    • Documentation issued by the financial institution/lending entity evidencing the mortgage
  • Car loan(s)
    • Documentation issued by the financial institution/lending entity evidencing the car loan(s)
  • Unpaid child and/or spousal support
    • Documentation, such as a court order or other document, evidencing any unpaid child and/or spousal support
  • Unpaid taxes
    • Documentation, such as a letter from the IRS, evidencing any unpaid taxes
  • Credit card debt
    • Credit card statements for all credit cards covering the last 6 months prior to filing.
  • Education-related loan(s)
    • Loan statements issued to you by the lending entity covering the last 6 months prior to filing.
  • Liens
    • Documentation evidencing any liens issued against you and/or property you own
  • Personal loans
    • Loan statements issued to you by the lending entity covering the last 6 months prior to filing.

A copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian, or Transunion issued within 1 year of filing, if applicable

If you do not have a credit report

Documentation that demonstrates you do not have a credit report or score with a credit bureau, such as a signed letter from the credit bureau(s), and any evidence of continued payments of bills

If you have filed for bankruptcy, whether inside OR outside the U.S.

Documentation evidencing the resolution of each bankruptcy.


If you have health insurance coverage

Health insurance card issued with your name and the effective and expiration dates. In addition, documentation that establishes your active policy/coverage:

  • A copy of each policy page showing the terms, including individual(s) covered, type of coverage, the deductible or premium, and when the policy expires/must be renewed; OR
  • Letter on health insurance company letterhead (or other evidence from the company) ; OR
  • Copy of the most recent IRS Form 1095-B (if available), evidencing renewal of coverage for the current year.

Premium Tax Credit(s) / Advanced Premium Tax Credit(s)

Transcript copy of your IRS Form 8963, IRS Form 8962, and a copy of IRS Form 1095-A.

If you are enrolled in health insurance but coverage has not started

A letter or other evidence from the insurance company showing that you have enrolled in or have a future enrollment date for a health insurance plan. Must include terms, type of coverage, state that you are the individual covered under the prospective policy, and the date coverage commences.

Any medical condition(s)

Documentation related to any medical condition(s) you currently have, such as medical records, medical/mental health documentation, evaluations by licensed medical professionals, or other documentation regarding your health and condition. You are also encouraged to submit documentation to outweigh any negative effect related to your medical condition, such as:

  • Information provided by a civil surgeon or a panel physician on a medical examination;
  • An attestation from your treating physician regarding the prognosis of your medical condition(s) and whether it impacts your ability to work or go to school;
  • Documentation of sufficient assets and resources to pay the costs of reasonably foreseeable/anticipated medical treatment.

Education and Skills

Documentation evidencing history of employment for the last 5 years, such as a Resume/CV (if available and not already provided), which includes any employment outside the US, part-time/seasonal employment, self-employment, and/or unemployment

Copy of the following educational degrees obtained, whether inside or outside the United States, if applicable:

  • High school diploma;
  • Bachelor’s degree(s)/transcripts; and
  • Other higher education degree(s)/transcripts.

Copy of documentation of any occupational skills, such as:

  • Workforce skills and training, such as participating in vocational rehabilitation programs;
  • Licenses for specific occupations or professions; and
  • Certificates documenting mastery or apprenticeships in skilled trades or professions;
  • If evidence is unavailable: provide a statement explaining why and, if possible, evidence of unavailability, such as a letter from the issuing institution.

Documentation establishing English proficiency, if applicable. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Language certifications certificates;
  • Documentation of any language or literacy classes taken or currently taking
  • Native English (or other language) speakers: MUST provide evidence of such proficiency, such as high school diplomas and college degrees/transcripts showing that the native language was studied for credit.

Retired Applicants:

If not previously submitted, documentation of income from pensions, social security, or other retirement benefits/accounts.

Primary Caretakers:

A sworn statement attesting to your role as a primary caretaker, and any other documentation establishing that:

  • You are the primary caretaker, such as a legal guardianship court order;
  • The individual you provide care for resides in your household;
  • The age of the person being cared for; and
  • The medical condition of the person being cared for, including any disabilities, such as a letter by the individual’s doctor indicating their medical condition or copies of their medical record.
[1] There are three important exceptions to the receipt of Medicaid benefits:

(1) by those who are under 21;

(2) by those who are pregnant;

or (3) for emergency medical services. There is a fourth exception, for school-based services (including services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), but this overlaps with the exception for children under 21.