Form I-864 Affidavit of Support
An affidavit of support, (USCIS Form I-864), is required for all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, (which include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21, including orphans) and other relatives who qualify for immigration to the United States under one of the family-based preferences. An Affidavit of Support is not required for an immigrant who is self-petitioning for immigration benefits because they are the battered spouse or child, or the widow/widower of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. An affidavit of support (USCIS Form I-134) is also required for the alien fiance/e's of US citizens who plan to enter the United States on the K visa categories.
The affidavit of support normally accompanies USCIS Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. When you sign the affidavit of support you become the sponsor of the intending immigrant(s). When you file an I-130 petition for your relative and Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, you are both the Petitioner (for the I-130) and the sponsor (for the I-864).
The affidavit of support is a legally enforceable contract with the United States government. The affidavit of support ensures to the United States government that your relative/intending immigrant(s) will not become a financial burden on American taxpayers should they fall into financial hardship. A legal permanent resident cannot seek local, state, and government benefits with the exception of Medical, Medicaid, and a few exempt programs outlined below. If a legal permanent resident you have sponsored seeks government assistance, you as the sponsor are liable and responsible for reimbursing that agency for monies owed.
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What are My Responsibilities as a Sponsor?
- As a sponsor bringing a relative and/or their child to live permanently in the United States, you are accepting legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant(s) until they become a US Citizen or until the intending immigrant(s) can be credited with 40 quarters of work which normally equates to 10 years. The work of a spouse or a parent can qualify for quarters in certain situations. By completing and signing the affidavit of support you are also designated as your relative's sponsor. You are a sponsor if you have filed or are filing a USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or USCIS Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative. The obligation of a sponsor ends when the legal permanent resident becomes a US Citizen, dies, or ceases to become a lawful permanent resident and departs the United States.
- Divorce does not end the sponsorship obligation. If you filed for your spouse's permanent residence and divorce, you still remain the sponsor unless the above conditions apply.
- If the immigrant receives any "means-tested public benefits," such as, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the sponsor is responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If the sponsor does not repay the debt, the agency has the right to sue them in court to get the money owed. There are certain types of programs which are not counted as means-tested public benefits, for example, emergency Medicaid; short-term, non-cash emergency relief; services provided under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts, among others.
How Do I File an Affidavit of Support?
- The Affidavit of Support is a Contract between Sponsor and Household Member. If you have a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must also complete and sign USCIS Form I-864. If you are using the income of other household members to qualify for the statutory income requirements, then each household member who is accepting legal responsibility for supporting your relative must complete a separate USCIS Form I-864A, in conjunction with Form I-864, Contract between Sponsor and Household Member.
- Generally, you are required to provide the most recent U.S. Federal income tax return, proof of income (recent pay stubs or bank account statements), most recent wage statement or 1099, and verification of employment. If your income reflected on your most recent income tax return does not meet the income requirement stipulated by USCIS on Form I-864P (USCIS poverty guidelines), you can supplement your income with proof of assets. If you plan to use your assets to supplement your income we recommend that you seek the assistance of an accredited attorney to ensure that your assets are sufficient to sponsor the intending immigrant. In most situations, this applies to individuals who are retired or self-employed. If you were not required to file a tax return for the most recent tax year because you are self-employed and have asked for an extension you must provide a written explanation. If you have not filed taxes and/or cannot supply proof of sufficient income, you will be required to obtain a Joint Sponsor.
- Once the affidavit of support is completed, and all the necessary biographic and financial documents are compiled, you must sign the Affidavit of Support. The signed I-864 Affidavit of Support along with copies of supporting documents should be provided to your relative to submit with his or her application for permanent resident status.
- Never send original documents to USCIS unless the instructions clearly state to do so. For filing purposes, copies of your documents are sufficient.
What are the income requirements for an Affidavit of Support?
- The Poverty Guidelines (Form I-864P), provide current minimum income requirements for use in completing Form I-864. The sponsor must prove that they can support the relative by providing documentation that their income is 125% above the mandated poverty line based on the sponsor's household size including all members of the sponsor's family, the intending immigrant(s), and any other dependents the sponsor claims on their most recent tax return. The sponsor should sign and complete an I-864 Affidavit of Support when the relative has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer overseas or when the relative is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident status (USCIS Form I-485) or with an Immigration Court in the United States.
What if my address changes?
- Sponsor's Notice of Change of Address (Form I-865), is to be used when necessary, by everyone who has sponsored an immigrant, until the obligation of the sponsor to the sponsored immigrant has been terminated. The sponsor has to file Form I-865 within 30 days of each change of residence or mailing address.