What Is an Affidavit of Support?
An Affidavit of Support also called the U.S. Immigration Form I-864 Under Section 213A of the Act is a document individual signs to accept financial responsibility for the intending immigrant named on the affidavit. The individual who signs the affidavit of support becomes the “sponsor”.
The sponsor is usually the petitioner who filed an immigrant petition on behalf of the intending immigrant. If the petitioning sponsor doesn’t have the financial resources to qualify, the intending immigrant may add another sponsor.
The Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract between a sponsor and the U.S. government. The sponsor promises to support the intending immigrant if they cannot do so on their own until they become a lawful permanent resident. It’s a backup plan in case the immigrant has financial problems.
Typically, the petitioner is required to:
- Fill out Form I-864, Affidavit of Support;
- Gather financial documentation and other supporting records.
Even for immigration attorneys, completing this required paperwork can be challenging. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not grant the immigrant permanent residence if the sponsors do not qualify.
Here is our guide to Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
Who Can File an Affidavit of Support?
U.S. immigration law mandates that the following immigrant submit Form I-864 completed by the sponsor when making a green card application:
- All immediate family (parents, spouses, and children under 21 who are not married, including orphans) and relatives who are eligible for family-based preferences for immigration.
- Employment-based preference immigrants in situations when a relative filed the immigrant visa petition.
- Employment-based preference immigrants when a family member has a significant ownership interest (5% or more) in the entity that filed the petition.
Who Does Not Need to File an Affidavit of Support?
The following types of people do not need to file an affidavit of support:
- If the intending immigrant has completed or can be given credit for completing 40 qualifying quarters of employment in the U.S. (usually 10 years).
- Self-petitioning widows or widowers who have an approved Form I-360.
- Individuals who have an approved Form I-360 as a battered spouse or child.
- Orphans adopted by U.S. citizens overseas are only permitted if both adoptive parents have met the child before or during the adoption and a full and formal adoption takes place before the orphan is granted permanent residency.
What Are the Requirements to Become a Sponsor for Affidavit of Support?
The sponsor must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder). If you are the sponsor, you must have a U.S. domicile. If you can demonstrate that you still have a home in the U.S. and that you are only temporarily residing overseas, you may still be qualified to serve as a sponsor.
Financial Requirements for a Sponsor
If you are a sponsor, you must meet certain income requirements:
- You must demonstrate that your household’s income is at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for the size of your household in the United States.
- The people who make up your household are you, your dependents, your in-laws, and the immigrants you are sponsoring.
- Your income will need to be higher to meet the requirements the more people live in your household.
- The sponsor must submit Form I-864P, which is used to calculate the required minimum income for filing Form I-864 (the Affidavit of Support).
- If you are currently on active military status in the U.S. Armed Forces and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or kid, your household income just needs to be at or below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- To achieve the income requirements, you can also use assets. Cash, stocks, bonds, and real estate are examples of assets.
- If you don’t have enough money or assets to qualify, you may be able to use household members’ income contributions or even a joint sponsor from outside your family to cut.
- The immigrant who is applying for a green card may also utilize his or her income to pay the necessary financial obligations, but only if that income will come from the same source after receiving the green card.
What Is a Joint Sponsor?
If the petitioner sponsor’s family income is insufficient to meet the income requirements on Form I-864, a joint sponsor may be added.
A joint sponsor is someone prepared to assume legal responsibility for supporting the prospective immigrant financially along with the petitioning sponsor.
The only difference between a joint sponsor and an individual sponsor is that a joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant to qualify. The joint sponsor must achieve the 125% income criteria by themselves (or by themselves and their household).
The petitioning sponsor cannot combine their income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.
There can be up to two joint sponsors. The petitioning sponsor, along with the joint sponsors, is nonetheless legally obligated to provide the sponsored immigrant with financial support even though there is a joint sponsor. The petitioner sponsor is still required to complete and submit Form I-864 for the immigrant, even if there will be a joint sponsor.
How Long Is the Sponsor Financially Responsible for the Beneficiary?
Because the Affidavit of Support is essentially a contract between the financial sponsor and the U.S. government, the government has the right to recover from the financial sponsor certain public benefits (such as Supplemental Insurance Income, or SSI, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (or TANF) used by their spouse after getting a green card. Check the USCIS website for a list of public benefits that must be repaid and those that need not be repaid.
For a list of public benefits that need to be repaid and those that do not need to be repaid, check the USCIS website.
The financial sponsor’s obligations under the Affidavit of Support end when one of four events happen:
- The passing of either spouse.
- The spouse who is applying for a green card becomes a citizen of the United States.
- The spouse who is applying for a green card has 40 quarters of employment here.
- The spouse seeking a green card leaves the U.S. permanently.
Unless one of the above-mentioned events has occurred and your obligations to that person have ceased, everyone you have previously sponsored financially (either as the primary sponsor or as a secondary co-sponsor) must be taken into account as you prepare to file a new Affidavit of Support.
How to File an Affidavit of Support
If you are the sponsor, you should complete Form I-864 when your relative who has applied for their green card has either been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at a consular office outside the U.S. or is inside the U.S. already. They are ready to submit Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status).
If you have a joint sponsor, they must also complete Form I-864. If you are using the income of other household members to qualify, then each household member who is accepting legal responsibility for supporting your relative must complete a separate Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
If you have petitioned for your spouse to enter on a K3 visa or your fiancé(e) to enter on a K-1 visa. In that case, you should file an affidavit of support once they adjust their status to permanent resident after arriving in the U.S.
Your most recent U.S. federal income tax return and evidence of your current employment must be submitted. You must explain if you were exempt from filing a tax return any of these years.
It will take longer to process your relative’s application for permanent residency if you don’t present the tax return or proof that you weren’t needed to file. If this information is not provided, an immigrant visa application may be denied, or your status may be adjusted.
Once you completed the affidavit of support, gathered the required paperwork, and had it notarized in the U.S. or before a U.S. consular or immigration officer, this packet of information should be given to your relative to include with their application for permanent resident status.
If you are instructed specifically to submit your affidavit of support to the National Visa Center directly, you must do so.
Can Form I-864 Be Filed Online?
If you obtained Form I-864 through the National Visa Center, you could submit it online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) (NVC).
You can send Form I-864 to the USCIS Chicago lockbox if you are filing it directly with USCIS, such as if you are filing it with Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) or Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)).
What Supporting Documents Need to Be Submitted with the Affidavit?
The sponsor must present documentation proving that they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful resident of the U.S. Proof that the sponsor resides in the United States is also required.
Additionally, they must demonstrate that they have the means to serve as a sponsor. These precise requirements can vary based on the sponsor’s circumstances. Different supporting documents for employment, self-employment, and retirement with investment income are needed.
How Long Is Form I-864 Valid For?
Form I-864, or affidavit of support, is valid as long as the individual being sponsored does not become a citizen of the United States, has worked for 40 quarters (often 10 years), or departs the country.
How to Tell If I Have Enough Money to Fill Out Form I-864?
Depending on your state of residence, the number of children, and other relatives you have living with you. Whether or not you are serving in the U.S. military on active duty, you may have to earn less or more to qualify as a green card sponsor.
What Are the Different Versions of I-864? Which One to Use?
It’s crucial to fill out the proper Form I-864 when submitting it.
Form I-864 must be used if you are submitting Forms I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for multiple relatives or I-140 (Petition for Immigrant Worker) for an employment-based green card.
If you will not need a joint sponsor and are completing Form I-130 for just one person, such as your spouse or a relative, you might be eligible to use Form I-864EZ in place of Form I-864.
If you need to include the income of one of your household members to satisfy the requirements for financial support, you may need to submit Form I-864A (Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member), along with Form I-864.
You will require a different Form I-864 if you are filing as a joint sponsor.
You may be allowed to file I-864W (Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support) if you feel that you do not need to submit Form I-864, for instance, if the person for whom you are petitioning has previously worked 40 quarters (approximately 10 years) in the U.S.
Falsifying an Affidavit Is Punishable
You risk having your Form I-864 rejected and any other immigration benefits if you knowingly and willfully lie, conceal a material fact, or submit a fraudulent document with it. In addition, you will be exposed to harsh legal penalties and maybe criminal charges under U.S. law.