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An affidavit of support is a legal document from a sponsor that guarantees financial support for an immigrant seeking to adjust to permanent resident status as a green card holder. The sponsor is typically a U.S. citizen or an already-established legal permanent resident, such as a relative or family member.
The affidavit of support is a contract between the sponsor and the United States government, obligating the sponsor to provide financial support for the foreign national if needed. This includes covering food, housing, healthcare, and other essential needs.
The sponsor must provide sufficient proof of income or financial resources to take on this responsibility. This can be done by showing a stable job, recent tax returns, bank statements, investments, and other assets.
In addition, the sponsor must demonstrate that they have taken on financial responsibility for the immigrant visa applicant. This includes providing evidence that the sponsor’s income is at least 125% of the federal poverty line established by the federal government. This ensures that the immigrant will not become a public charge.
Form I-864, also known as an affidavit of support, is commonly required during green card application for many categories. However, most people do not know whether they need to file it or not.
In an affidavit of support, an individual agrees to financially support an immigrant who will be seeking permanent residence or adjusting status in the United States. It is found under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The ‘financial sponsor’ usually sponsors the immigrant’s visa petition. The government requires the document so that the person does not become a public charge if they cannot fend for themselves.
Generally, family-based immigrants require the petitioner to fill out form I-864. Some employment-based immigrants also require that their sponsors file an affidavit of support. There are financial requirements that a sponsor has to meet to be eligible to file the form. Also, there are exceptions to the filing requirement.
If you fall into any of the following categories, you are required to file an affidavit of support:
In addition to filing the affidavit, the sponsor must submit relevant supporting documents proving that they meet the income requirement. This includes the sponsor’s most recent federal tax return and proof of current employment.
The petitioning sponsor may also submit other financial documents to prove their capacity. In addition, a sponsor needs to provide evidence that they have legal status in the U.S., either as a citizen or permanent resident.
Despite falling into the above-listed groups, some individuals are exempt from the requirement of filing an affidavit of support. They include:
For immigrant applicants applying via consular processing, their sponsor must complete form I-864 when they have been scheduled for a visa interview. Then, they can notarize the affidavit and send it along with supporting documents in a packet to the visa candidate. However, candidates of K-visas need not file an affidavit of support until their fiance, spouse, or child adjusts their status after entering the U.S.
Meanwhile, for adjustment of status candidates, the sponsor should fill out the form when the candidate is about to apply for adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The sponsor needs to notarize the affidavit and give it to the immigration candidate with other necessary documents so they can file them together.
The sponsor may receive specific instructions to file the affidavit of support directly with the National Visa Center. In that case, they should do as instructed.
Apart from being legal residents in the U.S. and above 18, all intending sponsors must have an income equal to or more than 125% of the Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.)’s poverty level for their household size.
There is a financial threshold set as the poverty level for a family of two. Then for every extra family member, the threshold increases by a fixed amount. To find out your minimum income requirement based on your family size, you can check the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
If you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and petitioning for your wife or child, your income only has to equal 100% of the poverty level for your household size.
Depending on the circumstances, one may be able to get around this situation by joining the income of other household members, getting a joint sponsor, or calculating their financial capacity based on their assets.
For the first option, the other household member needs to complete Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. The household member must be listed as a dependent on the sponsor’s most recent income tax return or have lived with them for the past six months. The sponsored immigrant can add their income and assets if they meet these criteria. However, they don’t need to fill out form I-864A.
In the case of a joint sponsor, they may be unrelated to the visa applicant. They must meet the income requirement independently without combining their income with the petitioning sponsor.
Lastly, the petitioning sponsor can add the cash value of their assets to supplement their income. The cash value of the assets has to be five times the difference between the household income and the minimum income requirements.
Sponsorship typically ends:
Note that divorce does not end a sponsorship obligation.
In most cases, submitting an affidavit of support is a mandatory requirement for visa applicants. Your visa application can be denied if you don’t submit this document. Hence, it is important to ensure that the sponsor’s affidavit of support complies with all immigration laws and regulations.
If you are a sponsor, understanding the requirements properly and filling out the form accurately is in your best interest. This helps to ensure that your sponsored person will receive their green card without any issues. For more information, please contact an immigration attorney.
If you need to file an affidavit of support, an immigration attorney from Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can serve as your guide to the USCIS procedures. You can rely on us to help you correctly prepare and file your documents. A skilled immigration attorney can also advise you if you do not meet the financial income requirements.
Our lawyers can help you complete an affidavit of support or renew your green card. We can discuss your matter over a free consultation. Call us today!