A proposed regulation to change the standard of the affidavit of support requirements for immigrants may be published and become effective soon.
Before the final version becomes effective, the State Department started to tighten the rules in 2018.
The department reduced the weight of an affidavit of support that many U.S. sponsors must provide to demonstrate that an applicant will not become a taxpayer burden. The new guidance stated that the affidavit should be considered only one factor in a broader test to determine whether a person might use cash assistance or require long-term, institutionalized care.
An affidavit of support previously would have been sufficient to override most public charge determinations.
Following the revision, the number of visa denials based on public charge grounds spiked.
The State Department rejected 12,973 immigrant visa applications over public charge concerns in fiscal 2018. The department turned down just 3,209 applications on those grounds in fiscal 2017 and a mere 1,033 in fiscal 2016.
The 2018 changes to the Foreign Affairs Manual also provided more detailed instructions for how consular officers should consider an applicant’s age, health, family status, financial resources, education, and skills when making a public charge determination.
It is expected that once the final rules become effective, denials of immigrant visa applicants will increase significantly.