All family-based immigrant applicants, and some employment-based applicants, are required to submit Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) with their immigration applications.
An Affidavit of Support is a legally binding document used to demonstrate that petitioner (the person sponsoring the immigrant) has the financial means to support the intending immigrant.
“Petitioner” or “Sponsor” is the person who filed Form I-130 to sponsor their family member for permanent residency.
“Intending immigrant” is the person who is being sponsored by the petitioner.
The purpose of Form I-864 is to show that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge, meaning they will not rely on government assistance for their financial support.
We have discussed the Affidavit of Support in detail in our other guides:
In this post, we will discuss how to correctly count the household size for Affidavit of Support purposes.
How to count the household size for Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)
The law requires the sponsor to demonstrate an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of the federal poverty income line.
Petitioners who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces and who are sponsoring their spouse or child must only demonstrate that they have an annual income equal to at least 100 percent of the poverty line.
The federal poverty income guidelines are updated each year and are available on the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) website.
The exact amount of income necessary to meet the minimum income requirements depends on where the sponsor resides (in any of the 48 contiguous states, in Alaska, or in
Hawaii) and the size of the sponsor’s household.
The key to meeting the minimum income requirements and satisfying the 125% level is knowing which family members or dependents must be counted in determining the sponsor’s (petitioner’s) household size.
The sponsor’s household size includes the following persons, regardless of their residence:
- Sponsor’s spouse;
- Sponsor’s unmarried children under 21 (residing with sponsor or separately from sponsor);
- Persons whom the sponsor has claimed as a dependent on the most recent federal income tax return;
- The intending immigrant and all accompanying derivative family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21); and
- Immigrants who have obtained green cards based on the sponsor’s filing of previous I-864 (unless these immigrants obtained US citizenships, deceased or lost their permanent resident status)
How to count income for Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)
In determining the amount of household income, sponsors are allowed to include income from the sponsor’s spouse and any other person included in the sponsor’s household size.
In order to count the income of any of these household members, the person must be at least 18 years old and sign Form I-864A.
Intending immigrants are not generally required to sign Form I-864A.
You can find more information about Form I-864A here.
Household members who sign Form I-864A do not have to be U.S. citizens, or permanent residents. Household members are not required to submit proof of their lawful immigration status.
Income can come from almost any source, including interest income and dividends, alimony, or child support.
The sponsor can submit a photocopy of their IRS tax transcript or federal tax return for the most recent year. Sponsor’s W-2, Form 1099, and all other attachments and schedules that were submitted with the most recent federal return must be submitted as well.
The checklist of required documents for household members can be found here.
The sponsor cannot include any means-tested benefits (SSI, Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, or CHIP) as income, but they may include retirement benefits, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, or other similar benefits.
How to count assets for Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)?
If the sponsor is able to show income that meets the minimum income requirements, the sponsor is not required to include assets.
If a sponsor is unable to show income that meets the minimum income requirements, then sponsor’s, household member’s or intending immigrant’s assets can be counted to meet the USCIS Poverty Guidelines.
If the sponsor is a U.S. citizen and the intending immigrant is the sponsor’s spouse or child age 18 years or over, the value of assets must be at least three times the difference between the sponsor’s household income and the federal poverty line for the sponsor’s household size.
- For example, a U.S. citizen Michael is sponsoring his child who is 10 years of age. Michael’s household size is 3 (Michael himself, Michael’s wife and 10-year-old son, the intending immigrant. Michael resides in California. Michael is not on active duty in the US military. The minimum income requirements for Michael’s household size is $31,075/year. Michael’s actual income is $25,000/year. To use assets, Michael needs to show $18,225 in assets. How we calculated this amount: $31,075 (required minimum) – $25,000 (actual income) = $6,075 x 3 times = $18,225.
- Let’s use another example. Juan is a permanent resident and wants to sponsor his wife who is a citizen of Guatemala. Juan’s household size is 2 (Juan himself and his wife who is the intending immigrant). Juan lives in Hawaii and is not on active duty in the US military. The minimum income required for Juan’s household size and state of residence (Hawaii) is $28,350/year. Juan’s actual income is $20,000. Juan will need to show that he or his wife own at least $41,750 in assets. How we calculated this amount: $28,350 (required income) – $20,000 (actual income) = $8,350 x 5 times = $41,750.
Keep in mind that the following individuals’ assets can be used:
- Sponsor’s assets (list them on Form I-864);
- Intending immigrant’s assets (list them on Form I-864);
- Household member’s assets (list them on Form I-864A).
What type of assets can be used for Affidavit of Support?
The assets that the sponsor, intending immigrant or household member wants to use must be readily converted into cash within one year. Examples of acceptable assets include:
- Savings in a bank or other financial institution
- Certificates of deposit
- Real estate
- Car (the person using car as an asset must own more than one car, and at least one car must not be included)
If using assets, the owner must provide the following documentation with their I-864 or I-864A form:
- If using savings, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit – statements for the last 12 months. The average balance for the 12 months will be taken into consideration
- If using real estate – deeds, recent appraisal completed by a licensed appraiser, proof of any liens and liabilities relating to the property. You can list the net value of the real estate which is the appraised value of the home, minus the sum of any and all loans secured by a mortgage, trust deed, or other lien on the property
- If using a car – title to vehicle, sales receipts or other proof of purchase. In listing the current value of a vehicle, the “blue book” value should be used.
What happens if the sponsor’s income has changed?
What happens if a considerable amount of time has passed since the sponsor filed an Affidavit of Support and by the time the application is reviewed, the sponsor’s income has changed?
For intending immigrants physically present in the U.S. who have applied for Adjustment of Status, USCIS generally does not request sponsor’s updated proof of income.
For intending immigrants located abroad who have applied for Consular Processing, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will request a new Affidavit of Support signed by the sponsor and sponsor’s updated federal tax return and W-2/1099 forms. Failure to bring the updated proof of sponsor’s income for a consular interview at the US Embassy or Consulate might lead to rejection and significant delays.