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Understanding the Affidavit of Support Process for US Immigrants

Understanding the Affidavit of Support Process for US Immigrants

The Affidavit of Support is a crucial legal document for US citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) sponsoring an immigrant for a green card. Learn about the process, requirements, and forms involved, such as Form I-864, to ensure a successful application with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

 

What is the Purpose of the Affidavit of Support?

The Affidavit of Support, filed with USCIS, ensures that the sponsored immigrant will not become a public charge and that the US citizen or LPR sponsor commits to providing financial support if necessary.


Filing the Affidavit of Support with Form I-864

Form I-864, also known as the Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, serves as the official form for the majority of family-based and select employment-based immigrant visa applications.


Who Needs an Affidavit of Support?

An Affidavit of Support is generally necessary for a majority of family-based immigrants and certain employment-based immigrants. To be more specific, an Affidavit of Support is mandatory for:

  • Immediate relatives of US citizens, encompassing spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 years old.
  • Additionally, family preference immigrants, which include spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents, as well as siblings of US citizens, also require an Affidavit of Support.

Understanding I-864, I-864A, and I-864P

The I-864 is the primary form used for the Affidavit of Support, but there are a few related forms that may also be required: 

  • I-864A: This form is used when there is more than one sponsor for the same immigrant. The I-864A allows the sponsors to combine their income and assets to meet the minimum income requirements. 
  • I-864P: This form is used to determine the minimum income requirements for the sponsor. The minimum income is based on the sponsor’s household size and the federal poverty guidelines. 

The Role of Form I-864W

Form I-864W, or the Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support Exemption, is used when certain immigrants, such as refugees and asylees, can demonstrate that they won’t become a public charge and don’t need a sponsor’s Affidavit of Support.


Required Information for the Affidavit of Support

Sponsors must provide detailed information about their income, assets, and household size, as well as the sponsored immigrant’s details, and sign the form under penalty of perjury.


Supporting Documentation for the Affidavit of Support

Sponsors must submit tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and other financial documents as proof of income, assets, and household size. Household members contributing to the financial support must also provide documentation.


Addressing Minimum Income Requirements

If a sponsor doesn’t meet the minimum income requirements based on federal poverty guidelines, they may need a joint sponsor or may use the immigrant’s assets as part of the financial support.


Sponsorship Obligations After Green Card Approval

Once the Affidavit of Support is accepted and the case is approved, sponsors cannot withdraw their sponsorship and are legally obligated to support the immigrant, even after the green card is granted.


Required Documents from the Sponsor

In addition to the I-864 form, the sponsor must attach the following supporting documents:

  • Proof that they are a US citizen or LPR 
  • Their most recent federal tax returns. If the sponsor does not have a recent tax return, they must attach either: 
    • a letter showing that their earnings are below the income where it is required to file for taxes, or 
    • a document that they are exempt from filing tax returns. 
  • Proof of their assets such as ownership, location, and values; 
  • Statement from an employee of the bank where the sponsor has their assets; 
  • Employment verification letter or recent paystubs; 
  • If the sponsor is self-employed, they must submit their business tax schedules; 
  • If the sponsor has bonds, they must submit the serial numbers, denominations, and the name of the owners.

I-864P Chart:

For the 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 $6,425 for each additional person  Add $6,425 for each additional person 

Keep in mind that poverty guidelines update annually, so always refer to the latest guidelines when completing the I-864 form. Additionally, the I-864P chart is only a guide for determining the minimum income required for the sponsor to meet the financial obligations under the Affidavit of Support. In reality, the sponsor’s financial situation will be evaluated based on a number of factors, including their income, assets, and debts. 

 

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