A recent immigration proposal from the Trump administration seeks to require the use of credit reports and scores as part of the U.S.’s immigration and green card review process. The proposal, which specifically notes the Fair Credit Reporting Act in discussing an applicant’s requirement to provide (and sometimes pay for) a credit report, will also require the federal government and United States officials to comply with the FCRA.
Specifically, the proposal states:
In addition to the opportunity cost of time associated with completing and filing Form I-944, applicants must bear the cost of obtaining a credit report and credit score from any one of the three major credit bureaus in the United States to be submitted with the application. Consumers may obtain a free credit report once a year from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies (i.e., credit bureaus) under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). However, consumers are not necessarily entitled to a free credit score, for which consumer reporting agencies may charge a fair and reasonable fee. DHS does not assume that all applicants are able to obtain a free credit report under FCRA specifically for fulfilling the requirements of filing Form I-944 and acknowledges that obtaining a credit score would be an additional cost.
It is expected that by giving the federal government, and specifically the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the ability to require the pulling of, and review of, an individual’s credit report, the federal government, in turn, will be faced with potential liability under the FCRA. Moreover, it should be assumed that state attorneys general—some with differing views from the Trump administration—will be monitoring compliance with the FCRA, in addition to how an individual’s credit report and score directly impacts the immigration review process.
While the proposal does not state the exact weight that will be given to an individual’s credit score, the specific requirement that credit reports are to be part of the immigration process, alone, suggests that it will likely be a key aspect of any review.