What is Affidavit of Support?
The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is an immigration form submitted by the U.S. immigration petitioner, guaranteeing to provide financial support to a foreign national beneficiary.
It is a legal contract between a sponsor or petitioner and the U.S. government.
The sponsor promises to support the intending immigrant in case he/she is unable to support themselves.The form is required to ensure the immigrant does not become a “public charge.”
If the sponsor fails to meet the income requirement on Form I-864, the USCIS won’t approve the intended immigrant for a green card.
If the petitioner’s income is not enough to support the intending immigrant, a joint sponsor may submit Form I-864 to sponsor the intending immigrant.
A joint sponsor does not necessarily have to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant.
Affidavit of Support Checklist
The supporting documents you need to submit along with Affidavit of Support form include:
- Sponsor’s Federal income tax records
- Most recent year’s income tax return
- Copy of Form 1099 (if applicable)
- Joint asset values (if applicable)
- Certificate of citizenship (for naturalized U.S. citizens)
- Copy of green card (for permanent residents)
- Form I-864A (for some sponsors)
- Proof of relationship between the sponsor and intending immigrant(s) (special case)
- Documentation of assets and liabilities (if any)
- Joint sponsor(s) records (if applicable)
Who Should File the Form?
While applying for the adjustment of status or immigrant visa, the following immigrants are required by law to submit the Form I-864, completed by the sponsor(s):
- All immediate relatives of the U.S. citizens: spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age and parents of U.S. citizens.
- All family-based relatives: ‘unmarried sons and daughters’ and ‘married sons and daughters’ of U.S. citizens, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, 21 years and older.
- Employment-based preference immigrants, in cases only when a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national relative filed the immigrant visa petition or such relative has a significant ownership interest (5% or more) in the entity that filed the petition.
Who Can Become a Sponsor?
Every family-based green card applicant must have a financial sponsor.
This person files the Form I-864 to show that the intending immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to rely on the U.S. government for public benefits.
Generally, the person who files Form I-130 to petition a relative, is also the person who sponsors the relative with Form I-864. However that’s not the only possible case.
These are the eligibility requirements required to qualify as an intending sponsor:
- Must be a U.S. citizen or a green card holder.
- At least 18 years or older.
- Must have an annual income of at least 125% of the current Poverty Guidelines.
- Must prove that the United States is his or her country of domicile.
Country of Domicile: A country of domicile is the country where you make your permanent home. If, as a sponsor, you live and work in the United States, your country of domicile is the United States.
If, as a sponsor, you live outside the United States due to temporary employment, but you have maintained a home in the U.S. and you intend to return to that home, your country of domicile is the United States.
However, if you live outside the United States but intend to reestablish domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission or adjustment of status, you may claim U.S. domicile.
You cannot be a sponsor if you live permanently outside the United States and do not intend to return to the U.S.
If the person who is seeking the immigration of one or more of his/her relatives cannot meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor who can meet the requirements may submit Form I-864 to sponsor all or some of the family members.
This means that if your household income is insufficient to sponsor the immigrant(s), you can seek support from an additional sponsor, called a Joint sponsor.
He/she must maintain a minimum annual income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the household size.
People generally get confused between a joint sponsor and a household member, in roles of a sponsor. This is where we introduce another form similar to the I-864, yet with its own unique functionality.
Difference between Joint Sponsor and Household Member
- A joint sponsor is an additional sponsor that does not necessarily have to be either related to the intending immigrant(s), or living at the same address.
- The joint sponsor will submit a separate Form I-864, along with the main sponsor’s I-864.
- A joint sponsor simply must prove that he/she is capable enough to individually satisfy the desired financial requirements.
- There can also be a relative of the petitioning (main) sponsor living in the same household, where he/she may act as a household member that contributes income.
- This household member shall be at least 18 years old.
- In such a case, this member must submit the Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, along with the main sponsor’s Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
- Unlike the joint sponsor, while submitting this Form-864A, the household member is adding his or her income to the main sponsor’s income.
When to file the Form?
- Form I-864 must be submitted with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-864 must be submitted within one year of the sponsor’s signature.
- If submitted after a year, a new I-864 form will be required.
- Once the Form I-864 has been submitted and accepted, it does not expire then.
- However, if the supporting documents are over a year old, the USCIS will ask you for new supporting documents, such as the most recent federal income tax returns (Form 1040) and a current employment letter.
If you are a financial sponsor, then on filling out your details, you must give the completed form and supporting documents to the immigrant you are sponsoring, to file with their Form DS-260 or Form I-485.
Affidavit of Support Checklist of Required Documents
Make sure you don’t send any original documents unless specifically requested in the instructions or applicable regulations.
Provide only photocopies of supporting documents with your Affidavit of Support.
If you submit any documents (copies or original documents, if requested) in a foreign language, you must include a full English translation along with a certification from the translator verifying:
- That the translation is complete and accurate,
- That they are competent to translate from the foreign language to English.
- Translator’s contact phone number and email
- Translator’s signature and date of signature
Tax Records for all sponsors:
- You must provide documentation of the Federal income tax return for the most recent tax year, including W-2s for the most recent tax year.
- You can also provide a copy of the Form 1099, if applicable.
- However, it is recommended to provide these federal income tax returns for the last three years.
For U.S. citizens or nationals sponsors: one of the following
- Birth certificate, or
- Certificate of naturalization, or
- Certificate of citizenship, or
- Photo of unexpired U.S. passport.
For lawful permanent residents sponsors:
- A copy of both sides of your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.
- Passport of another country bearing stamp of temporary permanent residence in the U.S.
Other Supporting Documents for Specific Sponsors
- Self Employed: If you’re currently self-employed, submit a copy of your Schedule C, D, E, or F from your most recent Federal income tax return, to prove your income.
- Sponsoring Multiple Immigrants: In this case, copies of supporting documentation are not required for such family members. Just photocopies of the original affidavit of support may be submitted for any of the additional immigrants listed.
- Joint Income of Household Members: If you are using the joint income of people in your house to qualify, a separate Form I-864A must be filed for each of them.
- However, an intending immigrant whose income is being used needs to complete Form I-864A only if his or her spouse and/or children are immigrating with him or her.
- On duty in the U.S. Armed Force or Coast Guard: If you are the petitioning sponsor and on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard and are sponsoring your spouse or child using 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, proof of your active military status.
- Proof of Relationship: You need to submit the proof of the intending immigrant’s residency in your household and their relationship to you, if they are not listed as dependents on your Federal income tax return for the most recent tax year.
- Proof that the intending immigrant’s current employment will continue from the same source if his or her income is being used, must be submitted.
- Documentation of Assets: If you use your assets or the assets of a household member to qualify, documentation of assets establishing location, ownership, date of acquisition, and value must be submitted. Evidence of any liens or liabilities against these assets.
- A separate Form I-864A for each household member using assets other than for the intending immigrant must be submitted.
- Additional Sponsor: If you are a joint sponsor, substitute sponsor, or the relative of an employment-based immigrant requiring an affidavit of support, proof of your U.S. citizenship status, lawful permanent resident status, or U.S. national status.
If you’re a legal guardian signing the Form I-864, you must submit:
- Proof of an appointment as legal guardian of your estate, and
- A copy of an order from the appointing court or agency specifically permitting the legal guardian to make your income and assets available for the support of the sponsored immigrant.
Joint Sponsor Checklist
The documents required for a joint sponsor are the same as those required of the primary sponsor:
- Proof of income (and assets, if any)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or green card holder status
- If relevant, Form I-864A completed by each individual who will combine their income and/or assets with the joint sponsors to meet the minimum annual income requirement.
Keep in mind that each sponsor must submit his/her properly signed I-864 form and a set of his/her supporting documents.
Note: USCIS will deny your Form I-485 application and fees will not be refunded if your Form I-485 application lacks a signed Affidavit of Support with all required evidence.