What is Form I-864?
Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, is a document that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must file with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if they intend to sponsor a family member hoping to immigrate to the U.S. In some cases, employers who are sponsoring immigrants will also need to complete this form. By completing Form I-864, the sponsor certifies that he or she will provide financial support for the immigrant if the immigrant is not able to support his or herself.
Who can be a sponsor?
Your sponsor must meet the following criteria to be eligible to file Form I-864:
- Be a citizen, a lawful U.S. permanent resident or a national
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Earn an income that is 125 percent above the federal poverty line
- Be able to prove that the U.S. is their permanent home
Who can be the beneficiary of an Affidavit of Support?
Sponsors can only complete Form I-864 on behalf of individuals applying for a Green Card who fall into the following categories:
- Immigrants who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, including parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21
- Family-based preference immigrants, including the unmarried and married children and siblings of U.S. citizens and who are 21 years of age or older as well as spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent U.S. residents
- Employment-based preference immigrants, but only in situations where a citizen, permanent resident or a relative of a U.S. national has filed a petition for an immigrant visa
How to fill out Form I-864
Form I-864 must be completed and submitted by an immigrant’s sponsor, who must complete and sign the form in black ink. If the sponsor is under guardianship, however, the guardian of the sponsor’s finances can also legally sign the document.
What information do sponsors need to complete the form?
To complete a Form I-864, your sponsor will need the following information:
- Your full legal name and address
- Your employer
- Your annual income
- Their annual income
- The details of any other immigrants he or she has sponsored using Form I-864
Your sponsor will need to provide basic background details about themselves as well as you (the beneficiary), including full legal names and addresses in section one of Form I-864.
Sections 2 and 3
Your sponsor will need to include details about you, the beneficiary, including information about any children who will accompany you — even if those children will not be moving to the U.S. right away.
Your sponsor will need to provide their U.S. mailing address, source of income and information about their citizenship status.
Your sponsor must include information about their household size, including the total number of individuals who are residing at their address.
Your sponsor must provide information about their employment status and income. While self-employment is legitimate, be careful to ensure that they have not underreported their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as they must show earnings that are considered sufficient enough to financially support you, the beneficiary.
If the amount of their current income is higher than was shown on their last income tax return, provide documentation that supports their higher income, such as a paycheck. These additional documents are particularly important if their higher earnings will bring your income over the minimum of the poverty guidelines for sponsorship.
This section asks sponsors to provide proof of assets and supplemental income. While this section is an optional section, your sponsor should complete it if their income might not be considered high enough to meet the required poverty guidelines. By providing proof of assets and their estimated value, your sponsor may be able to meet or exceed the poverty guidelines and demonstrate that they are able to sponsor the intended beneficiary of the Affidavit of Support.
This part of Form I-864 is the sponsor’s contract; they must promise the government that they will provide financial support for you, the beneficiary immigrant, so that he or she does not become a “public charge,” an individual who depends on government assistance. The sponsor must sign his or her legal name in order to validate the form.
Sections 9 and 10
These sections must be filled out if your sponsor is completing Form I-864 with the assistance of an interpreter or an attorney.
As the beneficiary immigrant, you must submit an original Form I-864 and evidence that supports the sponsor’s reported income.
Additionally, you should provide photocopies of the completed form for each member of your family who is traveling to the U.S. with you. Copies of documents supporting the sponsor’s income are usually not required for the family members accompanying the beneficiary.
Below, please find additional information that will assist you with completing and filing a Form I-864:
- Your sponsor must complete the form and must meet the above-mentioned criteria.
- They must complete the form and sign it in black ink; it will not be considered “original” if it is not completed in black ink.
- You should provide a cover letter with Form I-864 that indicates which documents are included with the form to help the official reviewing the form locate these documents.
- You will be required to submit evidence of your financial status, including copies of your federal income tax returns, proof of income and proof of assets (if necessary).
- Should you rely on the income of any members of your household to meet the income qualification guidelines, you will be required to provide an additional Form I-864 for each person in your household whose income you’re using to meet those requirements. Both your sponsor and each household member are required to completely fill out and sign the form.
How long is the sponsor responsible for the beneficiary?
The sponsor is considered responsible for the beneficiary, and therefore legally obligated to financially support the beneficiary, until one of the following conditions is met:
- The beneficiary becomes a U.S. permanent resident
- The beneficiary leaves the U.S.
- The immigrant is set to be removed from the country
- The immigrant passes away
What to do while you wait to hear back from USCIS
While you wait to hear back from USCIS after submitting your documents, you can prepare for your new life in the U.S. There are many more important documents and steps to take before you’ll be ready to move to the country however. For example, did you know that your credit history doesn’t automatically transfer with you when you immigrate? That means that companies and financial institutions will have no record of your previous financial history. In turn, that can make it very difficult to secure loans, secure an apartment lease, mobile phone companies, and other service providers.
Nova Credit's Credit Passport® technology helps people bring their credit history with them when they move to the U.S. While your credit history won’t be transferred to national bureau databases, Nova Credit partners with companies to include information from your Credit Passport® in applications to make it easier for newcomers to get approved for credit cards, loans and other products. Once you establish a U.S. credit account using the credit you’ve earned, you can start building a local credit history. Nova Credit currently connects to international credit bureaus in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Nigeria, South Korea and the UK.
More from Nova Credit:
Whether coming to the U.S. to join their family or start a new job, most immigrants moving to the United States must prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves in the U.S. and won’t rely on government assistance. You’ll need a sponsor, a family member or employer who certifies that he or she will provide financial support for you if you’re unable to support yourself. Your sponsor will be required to file Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, to prove that they have the financial means to support you in the U.S.