Form I-864 Instructions

Form I-864 Instructions

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What is Form I-864 used for?

  • Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” is an important immigration form
  • It is required for all family-based and certain employment-based immigrants to demonstrate that they have adequate financial support to avoid relying on government assistance
  • The person submitting the form, known as the sponsor, is typically a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • It’s important for sponsors to meet the income requirements to demonstrate their ability to support the intending immigrants
  • By signing Form I-864, the sponsor agrees to financially support the intending immigrant(s) and reimburse any government agencies for means-tested public benefits they may receive
  • This form is submitted with an immigrant visa application or an adjustment of status application within the U.S.

Form I-864 requirements

Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, has specific requirements that must be met by the sponsor to demonstrate their ability to financially support the intending immigrant(s):

  • Who Needs to Submit Form I-864:
      • All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens:
        • Spouses (IR-1/CR-1)
        • Unmarried children under 21 (IR-2)
        • Parents of U.S. citizens (IR-5)
      • All family-based preference immigrants:
        • Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F1 category)
        • Spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents (F2A category)
        • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (F3 category)
        • Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (F4 category)
      • Some employment-based preference immigrants ONLY when:
        • U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national relative filed Form I-140 or such relative has 5% percent or more ownership in the company that filed Form I-140
  • Who Signs Form I-864:
      • In family-based immigration applications, the person who filed Form I-130 must submit Form I-864 
      • In employment-based immigration applications the person who filed Form I-140 must submit Form I-864 (ONLY if a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national relative filed Form I-140 or such relative has a 5% or more ownership in the company that filed the petition)
  • Eligibility of the Sponsor:
      • The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder)
      • The sponsor must be at least 18 years old
  • Minimum Income of the Sponsor:
      • The sponsor must demonstrate an income at or above 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines for their household size
      • If the sponsor’s income is not sufficient, they may use the income of a “joint sponsor” (co-sponsor) who is willing to accept joint financial responsibility for the immigrant
  • Documentation of Income:
    • The sponsor needs to provide evidence of income, such as tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, employment verification letter and pay stubs
    • If the sponsor relies on assets to meet the financial requirements, they must provide evidence of ownership and value of those assets

Do I have to file Form I-130 and I-864 together?

Forms I-130 and I-864 must be filed together only in the following cases:

All other categories of applicants (such as family preference and applicants who are located outside the U.S.) file Form I-864 only when the following conditions are met:

How much income is required for a Form I-864 sponsor?

  • The income required for a Form I-864 sponsor is determined by the U.S. federal poverty guidelines
  • The minimum income required is set at 125% of the poverty level for the sponsor’s household size
  • The poverty guidelines are updated each year
  • Sponsor’s household size and location impact the minimum income required
  • Income requirements are higher for sponsors residing in Alaska or Hawaii
  • If the sponsor is on active duty in the U.S. armed forces and is petitioning for a spouse or child, the minimum income required is set at 100% of the poverty level
  • If the sponsor’s income is insufficient, they can use the income of a co-sponsor (joint sponsor) who is willing to accept financial responsibility for the intending immigrant

Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support (2024)

If sponsor resides in 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

  For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child For all other sponsors
2 $19,720 $24,650
3 $24,860 $31,075
4 $30,000 $37,500
5 $35,140 $43,925
6 $40,280 $50,350
7 $45,420 $56,775
8 $50,560 $63,200
  Add $5,140 for each additional person Add $6,425 for each additional person

If sponsor resides in Alaska

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

  For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child For all other sponsors
2 $24,640 $30,800
3 $31,070 $38,838
4 $37,500 $46,875
5 $43,930 $54,913
6 $50,360 $62,950
7 $56,790 $70,988
8 $63,220 $79,025
  Add $6,430 for each additional person Add $8,038 for each additional person

If sponsor resides in Hawaii:

Sponsor’s Household Size 100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

  For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child For all other sponsors
2 $22,680 $28,350
3 $28,590 $35,738
4 $34,500 $43,125
5 $40,410 $50,513
6 $46,320 $57,900
7 $52,230 $65,288
8 $58,140 $72,675
  Add $5,910 for each additional person Add $7,387 for each additional person

What to do if a Form I-864 sponsor does not meet the income requirements?

If a Form I-864 sponsor does not meet the income requirements, several options are available:

Option 1. Use a Joint Sponsor (Co-Sponsor):

  • A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept joint financial responsibility for the intending immigrant
  • The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident over 18 years of age
  • Joint sponsor’s income must meet the 125% of the Poverty Guidelines
  • Both the sponsor (person who filed Form I-130) and joint sponsor need to submit separate Form I-864s

Option 2. Combine Income with Household Members:

  • The sponsor can include the income of certain household members to meet the income requirements
  • Household member must submit Form I-864A
  • Eligible household members include sponsor’s:
    • Spouse
    • Parent
    • Child
    • Adult son or daughter
    • Sibling (if residing together with the petitioner)
    • Any other individual who was claimed as sponsor’s dependent on sponsor’s most recent federal tax return

Option 3. Use Assets to Supplement Income:

  • If the sponsor’s income is below the required level, they may use assets to supplement their income
  • Assets of the following individuals can be used:
    • Sponsor
    • Sponsor’s household member (spouse, adult son or daughter, parent, or sibling) who must submit Form I-864A
    • Intending immigrant
  • Eligible assets include stocks, bonds, CDs (certificate of deposit), real estate, etc.
  • The value of the assets must be three times or five times the income shortfall:
    • If a US citizen sponsoring a spouse or child under 18, the total value of assets must equal at least three times the difference between the total household income and the current Poverty Guidelines
    • For all other sponsors, the total value of assets must equal at least five times the difference between the total household income and the current Poverty Guidelines 

Examples of using assets:

  • A U.S. citizen has filed Form I-130 to sponsor a spouse. The U.S. citizen’s current annual income is $20,000. The minimum income required is $24,650. The difference between the required income and actual income is $4,650. The value of assets must be equal to $13,950 ($4,650 x 3 times).
  • A permanent resident has filed Form I-130 to sponsor a child. The permanent resident’s current income is $30,000. The minimum income required is $31,075. The difference between the required income and actual income is $1,075. The value of assets must be equal to $5,375 ($1,075 x 5 times).

What documents do I need to submit with Form I-864?

See the full checklist of required documents: Affidavit of Support Checklist – Form I-864

How to fill out Form I-864 step-by-step

See the detailed instructions: How to Fill Out Affidavit of Support – Form I-864

Form I-864 filing fee

Form I-864 filing depends on whether the application is being filed in the U.S. or abroad:

  • If filing Form I-864 with USCIS: $0 (no filing fee)
  • If filing Form I-864 with the National Visa Center (NVC): $120

Form I-864 filing address

Form I-864 filing address depends on whether the application is being filed in the U.S. or abroad:

  • If the application is being filed with USCIS, Form I-864 is filed together with Form I-485. See Form I-485 direct filing addresses
  • If the application is being filed with the National Visa Center (NVC), Form I-864 is uploaded online through the Consular Electronic Application Center website

How long does it take to get Form I-864 approved?

The time it takes to get Form I-864 approved depends on whether the application is being filed in the US or abroad:

  • If the application is being filed with USCIS, Form I-864 processing time matches the Form I-485 processing time (estimated time: anywhere from 8 months to 24 months)
  • If the application is being filed with the National Visa Center (NVC), Form I-864 processing time can take anywhere from 1 week to 2-3 months. You can check the current NVC processing time here

What are the obligations of Form I-864?

When a sponsor signs Form I-864, they are making a legally binding commitment to fulfill the following obligations:

  • Financial Support:
      • The sponsor is obligated to provide financial support to the intending immigrant at an amount not less than 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines for the sponsor’s household size
      • In reality, it does not mean that the sponsor must provide financial support to the immigrant
      • However, since Form I-864 is a legally enforceable contract, the U.S. government or state government may request the sponsor to reimburse any means-tested public benefits received by the immigrant
  • Reimbursement of Means-Tested Public Benefits:
      • If the sponsored immigrant receives means-tested public benefits, the sponsor might be obligated to reimburse the government agency that provided those benefits
      • Means-tested benefits include:
        • Food Stamps
        • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
        • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
        • Medicaid
        • State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
  • Notification of Change of Address:
      • The sponsor is required to notify USCIS of any change of address within 30 days of moving by filing Form I-865
  • End of Obligations:
    • Sponsor’s obligations under Form I-864 end when the sponsored immigrant:
      • Becomes a U.S. citizen
      • Has worked, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of coverage under the Social Security Act (generally 10 years)
      • No longer has lawful permanent resident status and has departed the U.S.
      • Becomes subject to removal but applies for and obtains in removal proceedings a new grant of adjustment of status, based on a new Affidavit of Support
      • Dies

Related Links:

Affidavit of Support Checklist – Form I-864

How to Fill Out Affidavit of Support – Form I-864

Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support