What is “Public Charge”?

A major requirement a Diversity Visa applicant must meet before being issued his / her Diversity Visa concerns what the United States government refers to as “public charge”. So, what is public charge, and how do you avoid becoming one.

Public charge meaning

In simple terms, a public charge is a foreign national who enters the United States and is not able to cater to his or her needs and ends up depending on the United States government for subsistence. This eventuality is something of concern to the U.S. government. So proving that you will not be(come) a public charge upon entering the United States is a requirement you must meet as a Diversity Visa applicant.

How do you prove that you will not become a public charge?

There are three main ways a DV applicant can prove to the United States government that he / she will not be a public charge after entering the country.

1. The most common of these ways is by means of an affidavit of support filed by a relative, friend or acquaintance of the applicant who is a United States permanent resident or citizen, and is referred to as his / her sponsor.

There is an electronic form – Form I-134, on the official USCIS website – to that effect. The sponsor has to file (fill out) the I-134 online, generally. The form basically requests information about the sponsor and the applicant(s). The filing of the I-134 includes submitting copies of relevant documents including bank account details; statement(s) from employer, including salary; last income tax return filed as well as a U.S. government issued identification card.

A single sponsor is sufficient to ‘cover’ a Diversity Visa case, although joint sponsorship (having two or more persons serve as your sponsors) is also possible.

To qualify as the sponsor of a Diversity Visa case, an individual’s yearly income must be at least 100% of the amount indicated for the combined family size (i.e. the total members in the sponsor’s family plus those in the applicant’s family) as expressed in the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

A U.S. permanent resident or citizen whose annual income falls below the requisite amount can not serve as your sponsor.

2. A Diversity Visa applicant may also prove that they will not become a public charge when allowed into the United States by demonstrating that they have sufficient income or financial resources to serve as their means of subsistence.

Proof of sufficient finance could be in the form of savings (bank account), as well as income-producing assets and or investments.

In such a case, what is considered a reasonable amount of income per applicant varies by State, but having an income-producing ‘activity’ is given a higher consideration as compared to being in possession of a ‘static’ amount of savings.

3. An offer of employment by a U. S – based employer is another means by which an applicant can demonstrate that they will not become a public charge if admitted into the United States.

This final means is the method the least frequently used by applicants when applying for a Diversity Visa. In effect, only very few applicants have a job offer when attempting to emigrate to the United States.

 

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