What is Affidavit of Support?
The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is an immigration form filed by a “Petitioner” (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) as a part of a family-based immigrant application.
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their family member for green card is called “Petitioner“.
- A foreign family member being sponsored for a green card is called “Beneficiary“.
ALL family-based applicants are required to submit the Affidavit of Support form, along with the supporting documents.
The following categories of immigrants are NOT required to submit Form I-864:
- Intending immigrants who have earned or can receive credit for 40 qualifying quarters (credits) of work in the U.S.;
- Intending immigrants who will, upon admission, acquire U.S. citizenship under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA);
- Self-petitioning widows or widowers who have an approved Form I-360;
- Self-petitioning battered spouses and children (VAWA applicants) who have an approved Form I-360.
Affidavit of Support serves as a legal contract between a petitioner and the U.S. government.
The petitioner promises to support the intending immigrant in case he/she is unable to financially support themselves after immigrating to the U.S.
The form is required to ensure the immigrant does not become a “public charge.”
If the petitioner doesn’t meet the income requirements on Form I-864, USCIS will deny the intending immigrant’s green card application.
If the petitioner’s income is not enough to support the beneficiary, 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.
As long as the joint sponsor meets the income requirements for his/her household size, domiciled in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, USCIS will accept it.
Affidavit of Support Checklist
The supporting documents you need to submit along with Affidavit of Support form include:
- Petitioner’s federal tax returns or IRS tax transcripts for the last 3 years;
- W-2 forms for the last 3 years;
- 1099 forms for the last 3 years (if applicable);
- Joint asset values (if applicable)
- Certificate of citizenship (for naturalized U.S. citizens)
- Copy of a 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) tax returns and W-2 forms (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.
Each petitioner who files Form I-130 to petition a relative must submit Form I-864.
In order to file Form I-864 you 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. Petitioner must prove that they live and work in the United States.
If, as a petitioner, 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 petitioner cannot meet the income requirements, you can get a joint sponsor.
A joint sponsor must who can meet the income requirements may submit Form I-864 to sponsor the intending immigrant(s).
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 earn a minimum annual income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for the household size.
Differences 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 needs to prove that they meet the income 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 must 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.
- 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 (if applying from the U.S.)
- Form I-864 must be submitted with Form DS-260 (if applying from outside the U.S.)
- 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.
- However, if the supporting documents are over a year old, the USCIS might request to provide new supporting documents, such as the most recent federal income tax returns (Form 1040), new W-2 forms and other proof of current income.
If you are a financial sponsor, then you must provide the completed and signed 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 Required for all sponsors:
- Federal tax returns for the last 3 years;
- W-2 forms for the last 3 years;
- 1099 forms for the last 3 years (if applicable).
For U.S. citizens or nationals sponsors (one of the following):
- U.S. Birth certificate, or
- U.S. Certificate of naturalization, or
- U.S. 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 Special Cases:
- 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.
- Joint Income of Household Members: If you are using the joint income of members of your household, 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 (only if filing Form I-864A): 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.
- Only if using the intending immigrant’s income: roof 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 (only if you do not meet the income requirements): 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.
- Only if you need a Joint 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.
Joint Sponsor Checklist
The documents required for a joint sponsor:
- Proof of income (and assets, if any)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or green card holder status
- Proof of U.S. domicile (only if filing with Form DS-260)
- 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.
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