If you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and are filing a petition for a spouse or a family member to immigrate to the U.S., you will need to file a series of essential immigration forms.
One such form is Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, issued by USCIS.
It is among one of the most vital forms submitted for the immigration process.
Affidavit of Support essentially declares your financial capability to support the immigrant you are sponsoring in the United States, without relying on public assistance from the U.S. government.
The Form I-864 consists of 11 sections.
An overview of sections is below.
- Part 1: Basis for Filing Affidavit of Support
- Part 2: Information About the Principal Immigrant
- Part 3: Information About the Immigrants you are Sponsoring
- Part 4: Information About You (Sponsor)
- Part 5: Sponsor’s Household Size
- Part 6: Sponsor’s Employment and Income
- Part 7: Use of Assets to Supplement Income (Optional)
- Part 8: Sponsor’s Contract, Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
- Part 9: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature if interpreter is needed
- Part 10: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Affidavit, if Other Than the Sponsor
- Part 11: Additional Information
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Below we will guide you how to fill the I-864 Form step-by-step. Let’s get started.
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.
The form is required to ensure the immigrant does not become a “public charge.”
It is submitted in any such case that involves a U.S. citizen or permanent resident filing an immigration petition for a foreign family member, or a spouse.
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.
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.
You can check out here, if you are eligible to financially sponsor an immigrant wanting to apply for a green card in the U.S.
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 have to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant.
Any U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national who is at least 18 years of age, domiciled in the United States, can become a joint sponsor.
Who Needs to File it?
At the time of applying for adjustment of status or immigrant visa, the following immigrants are required by law to submit Form I-864, completed by the sponsor(s):
- All immediate relatives of 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.
When to file it?
- 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.
Where to Mail Form I-864 if Filing With Form I-485?
The completed and signed Form I-864 must be filed together with Form I-485.
The Form I-485 mailing address depends on the category you are filing under.
The list of all Form I-485 categories and corresponding mailing addresses can be found here.
To ensure your Form I-864 is accepted by USCIS, fill out the form completely and accurately.
Don’t leave any question unanswered.
If a question does not apply to you, type “not applicable” or “none”.
Note: if Form I-485 will be submitted without the properly completed and signed Form I-864, USCIS will deny your application.
Where to Upload Form I-864 if Filing With DS-260?
If the intending immigrant is applying for a visa from abroad, Form I-864 and the supporting documents must be uploaded online using the U.S. Department of State CEAC online application form.
How to Fill the Form I-864: Step-by-Step Instructions
Tip # 1: Use the Latest Version of Form I-864
You should always use the latest version of any USCIS immigration form to prepare your applications.
Attention: If you submit the outdated version of any immigration form, USCIS will reject your application.
The latest version of Form I-864 can be downloaded on the official USCIS website here.
You can see if the version you have is still valid in the upper right corner of the form (like in the image below).
Some general rules for Filling the Affidavit of Support are listed below:
- It is always advisable to fill the form on a computer or an electronic device, rather than filling it with a black ink so that you can make changes to your form later, if required.
- The form must have an original ink signature. Make sure it is signed in black.
- Submit only legible photocopies of documents requested, unless the instructions specifically state that you must submit an original document.
NOTE: Submit photocopies ONLY.
If you submit original documents when not required or requested by USCIS, your original documents may be immediately destroyed upon receipt by USCIS.
Part 1: Basis for Filing Affidavit of Support
This part identifies your relation to the immigration application.
Provide your full legal name (the sponsor) in the space provided, then select the Item Number that reflects your basis for filing Form I-864.
- 1.a: Select this box if you’re the petitioner (person who files Form I-130), for a family immigration case.
- 1.b: Check this box if you are filing or have filed Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) for the immigrant looking for a green card, on the basis of a job and depict how you are related to the immigrant.
- 1.c: Check this box if you don’t personally employ your relative but own more than 5% of a company that does.
- 1.d: In case you are the only joint sponsor.
- 1.e: If there are two joint sponsors and you are one of them.
- 1.f: Check this box if you are a ‘substitute sponsor’. A “substitute sponsor” is someone who is signing the form in place of the petitioner because the petitioner died. Substitute sponsors must be related to the immigrant, and specify that relationship on the form.
Part 2. Information About the Principal Immigrant
Part 2 asks for information about the Principal Immigrant.
This is the primary immigrant in the immigration case you are sponsoring.
Provide information about the primary immigrant only in Part 2.
- 1.a-2.i: Provide the full legal name and the complete mailing address details of the principal immigrant. Do not provide nicknames.
- Item 5, Alien Registration Number: Is an identification number issued by the immigration authorities. It will only be assigned if the immigrant has previously applied for a green card or other immigration benefit. If the immigrant you sponsor doesn’t have an Alien Registration number, leave it blank.
- Item 6, USCIS Online Account Number: The immigrant would have a USCIS online account number only if he or she had created an account online for some immigration-related purpose. This number is not the same as the Alien Registration Number. If the immigrant doesn’t have an USCIS online account number, leave it blank.
Part 3: Information About the Immigrants you are Sponsoring
Here, you must state which individual or individuals you are choosing to sponsor.
You may have been sponsoring only the Principal Immigrant, or you may have been sponsoring additional individuals immigrating together with the Principal Immigrant.
- Item 1: Check ‘No’ if you are the second of two joint sponsors.
- Item 2: Check this item and provide information about family members only if required. If the principal immigrant you’re sponsoring will be immigrating with another relative(s) with him/her, within a period of six months of the latter’s entry into the U.S., then their names should be listed here.
- Item 29: Type or print the total number of immigrants you are sponsoring.
Part 4: Information About You (Sponsor)
Once you (sponsor) fill all the details regarding your full legal name and the corresponding addresses, you will be directed to the next sections.
- Item 5, Country of Domicile: This means the country where you maintain a residence and plan to live for the foreseeable future.
- In order to be a financial sponsor, your country of domicile must be the United States.
- If your country of domicile is the United States but mailing address and/or place of residence isn’t, then you must attach documentary evidence explaining your case.
- Item 10, U.S. Social Security Number: If you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, you must obtain one before submitting the Affidavit. It is a compulsory field. You can apply for a Social Security Number at a Social Security Administration office in your area.
Part 5: Sponsor’s Household Size
You need to provide USCIS the total number of people you’ll be financially responsible for.
Be careful with the counting.
Do not count the same member of your household twice.
For example, if you are sponsoring the spouse, who’s currently residing with you, do not count him/her twice.
In such case, you can enter “0” in item 3 “If you are currently married, enter “1” for your spouse” to avoid counting your spouse twice.
This way, you will have the accurate household size in Form I-864.
- Item 3: Type “1” if you’re married or “0” if you’re not.
- Item 7: Here, you can include any non-dependent relatives living with you, contributing to your household size. They include: parents, sibling(s), adult children (over 21 years). The only reason to include these individuals is if you want to count their income for purposes of Form I-864. If so, they will need to complete an additional form called the Form I-864A.
Part 6: Sponsor’s Employment and Income
Here, the sponsor needs to provide detailed information about his/her employment.
- Items 1-6: You (sponsor) must select the boxes which apply to you.
- Items 8-22: This section determines your household income. A point to be noted here is that your individual income is not the same as your household income.
- If your individual annual income is over 125% of the household income, then you need not mention any other household member’s income.
- For items 8-19, if you include income of the intending immigrant(s), they must complete Form I-864A.
- For items 20-22, if you included any of the household members who are not the actual immigrants, they must plan to complete a separate agreement with the sponsor, using Form I-864A.
- Check box 21 if you are relying on the income of household members.
- Check box 22, if the household member whose income you’re relying on has no dependents.
- Items 23.a-25: You must provide either an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) transcript or a photocopy from your own records of your Federal individual income tax return for the most recent tax year.
- If you believe additional returns may help you to establish your ability to maintain sufficient income, you may submit transcripts or photocopies of your Federal individual income tax returns for the three most recent years (recommended).
- For persons who filed federal income tax returns as single, the numbers USCIS is looking for in the “total income” boxes in 24.a, 24b, and 24.c. can be found on your IRS Form 1040.
- While providing a photocopy, you must include each and every Form W-2 and Form 1099 (if applicable) that relates to your tax returns.
Part 7: Use of Assets to Supplement Income (optional)
You need to complete this section only if your annual household income does not meet the Poverty Guidelines requirements.
If your income alone is enough to financially support the intending immigrant(s), you do not need to complete part 7 of the Form I-864.
In such a case, you may add assets that include items like a house or a second-hand car, only if you can sell it.
Types of assets may include stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and property (both real estate and other forms of property).
You must keep in mind subtracting debts, mortgages, and liens before writing down their value.
Only assets that can be converted into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the owner may be included.
Part 8: Sponsor’s Contract, Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
The immigration service will reject your Affidavit, if it contains any errors.
For this reason we strongly encourage you to spend time carefully reviewing the form.
Read the contract carefully, then sign and date the affidavit.
- Items 1.a. – 7.b: Check box 2 and provide a name if someone else (an interpreter) fills the form for you, on the basis of information you provide.
- You need to finally sign and date the Affidavit in boxes 6.a. and 6.b.
- A stamped or typewritten name in place of a signature is not acceptable.
Part 9: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
If an interpreter helped you to complete Form I-864, he or she will have to complete Part 9.
This section will ask for all the details of the interpreter.
He/she must fill in these sections carefully, followed by signing and dating your affidavit.
Part 10: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Affidavit, if Other Than the Sponsor
If you checked box 2 in Part 8, the preparer who helped you with filling out Form I-864, will have to complete this part.
If the person who completed this affidavit is associated with a business or organization, he/she should complete the business or organization name and address information.
Anyone (attorney, friend, family member, etc.) who helped you complete this affidavit must sign and date the affidavit.
Part 11. Additional Information
This section is for you to provide any additional information in the affidavit.
You can also make copies of this section, for extra space and file it with your affidavit.
Don’t Forget to Sign Your Form!
Remember, USCIS will reject any unsigned form.
Checklist of Supporting Documents
Do not send original documents unless specifically requested in the instructions or applicable regulations.
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, and that they are competent to translate from the foreign language to English.
Here we provide the list of documents you need to submit with Form I-864.
For U.S. citizens or nationals: 1 of the following
- Birth certificate, or
- Certificate of naturalization, or
- Certificate of citizenship, or
- Photo of unexpired U.S. passport, and
- Sponsor’s tax records (also called “tax transcripts”).
For lawful permanent residents:
- Both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (green card).
- You must provide documentation of your most recent year’s Federal income tax return.
- You can provide a photocopy of your federal income tax returns for the last three years.
- Passport of another country bearing stamp of temporary permanent residence in the U.S.
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