The Affidavit of Support (also called Form I-864) is often completed by the petitioning relative. With this form, they demonstrate that they are financially equipped to care for the green card applicant. In what follows, we may refer to the person seeking a green card as the “beneficiary” and the person completing Form I-864 as the “financial sponsor” (or just “sponsor” for short).
Below, we will offer a thorough explanation of the Affidavit of Support.
Completing the Form
In the Meantime…
The cost of filing the Affidavit of Support will depend on whether the form is filed inside or outside the United States. If filed from within, the form would be processed by the U.S. Department of State, in which case the sponsor would have to pay a fee. If they file the Affidavit somewhere other than the United States, the sponsor will not need to pay a filing fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
As noted in the “Instructions for Affidavit of Support,” the sponsor may only submit this form for green card applicants who:
Are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens
Fall under the “family preference” immigrant classification
Are seeking an employment-based visa
In the latter case, the initial petition must have been filed by a U.S. citizen, national, or green card relative, or alternatively, the relative must own at least 5% of the petitioner’s venture.
Financial sponsors must satisfy certain eligibility criteria before being able to submit an Affidavit of Support. They must, for instance, reside permanently in the United States, while being either a U.S. Citizen, national, or permanent resident. And, in addition to being at least 18 years old, they must bring in, as annual income, a minimum of 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. Note that the number of people living in the household can greatly affect the minimum income requirement, though, very often, it’s $22,887.
If, for any reason, the financial sponsor does not earn enough money, the beneficiary may, in certain cases, use their own income to satisfy the criteria. The sponsor, for their part, can offer assets (such as property or stocks) in place of income and even ask other members of the household to include their income as support.
Once the green card application is approved, the sponsor must follow through with the financial promise made in Form I-864 until one of the following occurs:
The beneficiary has their green card revoked and leaves the United States
Either the sponsor or the beneficiary passes away
The beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen
The beneficiary completes 40 quarters of U.S.-based employment
To successfully complete the Affidavit of Support, the financial sponsor will need to collect documentation pertaining to their level of income. The type of evidence required will depend on the particular circumstances of the sponsor, but in every case, they must include:
Copies of federal tax returns (or a statement explaining why no taxes were filed)
The most recent W-2s
Copies of Forms 1099
Proof of income reported on federal income tax return
The sponsor may 1) collect and submit the above information for the previous 3 tax years, or alternatively, 2) they may submit a letter written by their employer attesting to their current employment status. 3) They can also collect 6 months worth of paystubs, if they so wish. And if they want to be thorough, they can do all three of these.
Completing the Form
In this section, we’ll go through the process of filling out Form I-864. At the outset, the financial sponsor should collect information concerning income and employment. They may also want to draft a cover letter containing a breakdown and explanation of all the documents included in the Affidavit of Support.
In the first 3 parts, the sponsor will need to provide information about themselves (whether they’re, for instance, the petitioner or a joint sponsor), the principal beneficiary, and the beneficiary’s family members. The form also requests USCIS and Alien Registration Numbers (or A-Numbers). If no such numbers have been distributed, the sponsor can mark “N/A” in those slots. In general, “N/A” should be used whenever questions are inapplicable – no spaces should be left blank.
In Parts 4, 5, and 6, the financial sponsor must provide their:
Mailing address in the United States
Size of household
Employment and income-related information
If the sponsor is self-employed, but their current income is higher than that listed on their federal tax return, they may need to fetch documentation – such as pay stubs from the previous 6 months – substantiating the higher of the 2 numbers. If, however, the reported income meets the minimum income requirement, there’s probably no need to take this extra step.
If, after tallying up their annual income, the financial sponsor still fails to meet the required income level, they will likely need to complete Part 7, at which point they must provide information regarding any relevant assets, including documents demonstrating:
Proof of Ownership
The asset’s value
Location of the asset
Date of purchase
The final 3 sections – Parts 8, 9, and 10 – must be completed, respectively, by the sponsor, interpreter (if any), and preparer (if any). In Part 8, the sponsor signs a contract stating that they will uphold their financial obligations until they are no longer legally required to do so.
If an interpreter or preparer was used to assist in the completion of Form I-864, they will need to provide the necessary certifications and signatures in Parts 9 and 10.
If, at any point, the sponsor needs more space to complete the form, they may use part 11 (entitled “Additional Information”) or add blank pages. If they use blank pages, they should be sure to write their name and A-Number (if any) at the top; provide a signature and date; and include the page, part, and item number being referenced.
Note: If other household members are offering their income to help meet the minimum income requirement, they will need to complete their own additional Form I-864.
In the Meantime…
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