Affidavit of Support (I-864)
What is Form I-864?
Form I-864 is an Affidavit of Support. This affidavit is a legally enforceable contract in which the person who signs the affidavit (referred to as the petitioner or sponsor) agrees to financially support the immigrant named on the affidavit while they are in the United States. When you sign this document, you become the immigrant’s financial sponsor until the immigrant either becomes a citizen of the United States or is credited with 40 quarters of work, which usually takes 10 years.
What supporting documents do I need for Form I-864?
When you submit an Affidavit of Support, you will need to include documents that provide evidence of the answers you have written on the form. Supporting documents may include:
- If you are a United States citizen, a copy of your birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization or citizenship
- For a lawful permanent resident, a copy of your permanent resident status card (green card)
- Your federal income tax return and other tax documents
- Proof of active military status, if the financial sponsor is a military member petitioning on behalf of a spouse or child
- Form I-864A for each household member whose income or assets will be used to meet minimum income requirements, and documentation of these assets
- If a household member’s income is being included and they are not listed as a dependent on your most recent federal tax return, then you will need to provide proof of their residence in your home and their relationship to you.
- If you are using the intending immigrant’s income to meet minimum income requirements, you will need to submit proof that the immigrant’s current employment will continue.
Who needs to file Form I-864 Affidavit of Support?
The I-864 affidavit of support form needs to be completed by the person who is the petitioner or sponsor of the immigrant. A Form I-864 is required by law to obtain an immigrant visa or adjustment of status for:
- All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and relatives who qualify for immigration under one of the family-based preferences
- Employment-based preference immigrants, if a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative filed the immigrant visa petition.
What are the responsibilities of a sponsor?
By signing an affidavit of support, a sponsor is accepting legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant if necessary. This legal obligation generally lasts until the immigrant either gets U.S. citizenship or is credited with 40 quarters of work. The legal obligation may also end in the event of the death of either the immigrant or the sponsor, or if the immigrant moves out of the country and no longer has permanent residency. It is important to note that divorce does NOT end a sponsorship obligation, however.
The main obligation you are taking on by signing an affidavit of support is agreeing to pay back any government assistance that the sponsored intending immigrant may take during your legal sponsorship. If you do not repay this debt, you can be sued for the money in court by the agency which paid it out.
What is the minimum income to sponsor an immigrant to the United States?
As a sponsor, you must be able to show that your household income is at least 125% of the current U.S. poverty level for your household size, which includes you and anyone living with you, in addition to the immigrant or immigrants you are sponsoring. The only exception to this requirement is if the sponsor is an active duty military member and the sponsored immigrant is your spouse or child. In this case, your income only needs to equal the U.S. poverty level for your household size. To find out whether you can meet income requirements, you can check the Affidavit of Support poverty guidelines.
What happens if I don’t meet the minimum income requirements?
If you are unable to meet the minimum income requirements to be an immigrant’s sponsor, there are some options.
- You can add the value of your assets, including money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate. However, if you have to take this option, it is not a one-to-one substitution. The value of these assets must amount to five times the difference that you need to make up. As an example, if your earned income is $10,000 less than the federal poverty guidelines require, then you would need to show $50,000 worth of assets.
Again, there are a couple of minor exceptions here. If the immigrant whom you are sponsoring is your spouse or adult child, then your assets only need to equal three times the difference between your income and 125% of the poverty guidelines for your household size. If you are sponsoring an orphan immigrating to the U.S. for adoption, then the parents’ assets only need to equal the difference between income and 125% of the poverty level.
- You can meet the income requirements by using the income and assets of household members to whom you are related. These relatives may be related to you by either birth, marriage, or adoption, but in order to count their income, they must be listed as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or have lived with you for the past six months. In this case, your relative would need to file a Form I-864A, which is a contract between the sponsor and a household member.
- You can also count the assets of the intending immigrants.
What is a joint sponsor?
If there is someone who is willing to accept legal and financial responsibility for the sponsored immigrant besides the primary sponsor, then this person can be a joint sponsor. A joint sponsor does not need to be related to the sponsored immigrant, but otherwise, they need to meet all of the same requirements as the primary sponsor. Also, a joint sponsor must have a household income of 125% of poverty guidelines alone. In other words, though it’s called a joint sponsor, you cannot combine the income or assets of the two sponsors to meet the minimum income requirement. Each must meet the minimum requirement separately.
How do I fill out an Affidavit of Support?
If you are sponsoring an intending immigrant, you will need to fill out and submit all pages of the form and supporting evidence, including financial documents and tax returns. You will also need to make sure that you sign and date the form in black ink, and your signature is required to be original and not a photocopy.
How many affidavits of support can I file?
If you would like to be a sponsor for more than one intending immigrant, it is possible to do so. In the case of an immigrant who is immigrating along with close family members, these people can all be grouped together. For unrelated people, however, you may act as a sponsor for however many people you would like, keeping in mind that you will have to meet the minimum income requirements for each one. It is also important to note that, if you are already sponsoring an immigrant and want to sponsor another one, you will need to include the first immigrant (and associated family members) in your household size to determine minimum income requirements. This will push your minimum income requirement to a higher level.
Immigration Law Firm in South Florida
If you are considering becoming a financial sponsor or a substitute sponsor, you need the assistance of a law firm that you can trust. Florida Immigration Law Counsel has assisted thousands of individuals and families in relocating to the United States. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.