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Sphere on Spiral Stairs

Using the I-864 Affidavit in Support Immigration Form

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To get a US immigrant visa, you will most likely need a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) to sponsor you.

In order for the US government to give someone a Green Card, they need to know the person has enough income. That is why they need an Affidavit of Support from the sponsor for the applicant.

What is the Affidavit of Support?

The Affidavit of Support is a document that shows the US government that the Green Card applicant will not depend on welfare programs. The document states that the applicant receiving Green Card sponsorship is responsible for them financially. So if the applicant does not have any income, they will be financially dependent on the sponsor. Even in this case, the applicant will not be dependent on the US government.

The US government requires this to make reliance on its welfare system lower. They do not want foreign immigrants to come to the US with an immigration sponsorship and depend on the US to give them income.

The document is a contract between the sponsor of the applicant and the US government. The sponsor agrees to support the applicant for indefinite periods of time. The support can stop if the following situations happen:

  • The applicant becomes a US citizen;

  • The applicant works for more than 40 quarters in the US;

  • The applicant dies.

The sponsor’s obligations continue until conditions are met even if the sponsor and applicant are spouses. If the sponsor and applicant get a divorce, the sponsor’s obligations continue. The sponsor cannot ask the US government to end the obligations because of divorce.

When an applicant has an Affidavit of Support, they are not eligible for means-tested programs in the US. This includes food stamps or Medicaid. If the applicant receives such benefits, the agency may ask the sponsor to pay back. If the sponsor refuses to pay, the agency could sue them.

Who Needs an Affidavit of Support?

There are a few immigrant visas for which the applicant needs an Affidavit of Support. They need the document to get the visa or adjust their status to an LPR. These categories are as follows:

  • All those who are applying for an Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa. This includes spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, etc.;

  • All those applying for Family Based Immigrant Visas. This includes unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens, siblings of US citizens, etc.;

  • All those applying for an Employment Based Immigrant Visa when the petitioner is:

  • a US citizen

  • a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)

  • a US national relative who has a 5% or more ownership interest in the petitioning entity.

Who Does Not Need an Affidavit of Support?

Some of those who are applying for immigrant visas do not need an Affidavit of Support. These are:

  • Immigrants who have earned or received credit for 40 quarters for working in the US. Some immigrants can receive credit from their spouse (if married at the time) or parents (while the applicant was under 18 years old);

  • Immigrants who will gain US citizenship upon entering the US.;

  • Those who have self-petitioned as widows/widowers with an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant;

  • Those who have self-petitioned as battered spouses or children with an approved Form I-360.

To get the Affidavit of Support, you need to file Form I-864. Those who do not need to file this form must submit Form I-864W, Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support Exemption.

What Are the Requirements for the Affidavit of Support?

To get an Affidavit of Support, an applicant must have a sponsor or petitioner in the US.

The petitioner must meet these criteria:

  • The sponsor must be at least 18 years old

  • The sponsor must be either a US citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR)

  • The sponsor must have a valid US address and live in the US.

  • A person who has filed one of these forms:

    • Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance for their own fiancé

    • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for a family member

    • Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative for an orphan

    • Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative for an adoptee

    • Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker for:

      • a spouse, son, daughter, sibling, or parent, or

      • someone who has a 5% or more ownership interest in the petitioning entity

Besides requirements on who can be the sponsor, there are also income requirements. The sponsor must show that their income is at least 125% of the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household.

For those on active duty in the US Armed Forces sponsoring a spouse or minor child, they must prove an income of 100% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. Active US Armed Forces are Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard.

Options if the sponsor cannot meet income requirements

If the sponsor cannot meet these income requirements, they have a few options such as:

  • Adding the cash value of their assets. Assets could be savings accounts, bonds, stocks, or property. The sponsor must prove that the value of the assets is five times the difference of their household income and the 125% requirement.

    • For US citizens sponsoring their spouse or children (18 years old or older), the value must be three times higher;

    • For parents sponsoring orphans for adoption, the value must be equal to the difference of their household income and the 125% requirement;

  • Adding a joint sponsor, such as a member of their household related to them by birth, adoption or marriage. The joint sponsor must be a dependent on the main sponsor’s most recent federal tax return documents. Also, they must be living with the main sponsor in the last 6 months. The joint sponsor must also agree to sponsor the applicant.

  • Adding a substitute sponsor who meets the income requirements. The substitute sponsor must be related to the applicant by birth, adoption, or marriage. The substitute sponsor must agree to sponsor the applicant.

How to Get an Affidavit of Support?

To get the document, the sponsor must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support to USCIS. They must also attach the supporting documents for the immigrant visa. The sponsor must sign the form in black ink. Signing the form with any other ink color will make it unacceptable to USCIS.

The sponsor must read and follow the instructions. Any mistake on the form will delay the processing of the visa. Incorrect or fraudulent information may lead to USCIS denying the Green Card of the applicant.

Affidavit of Support Document File

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

  • Proof that they are a US citizen or LPR by submitting:

    • a birth certificate;

    • S passport;

    • naturalization certificate, or

    • permanent resident card.

  • Their most recent federal tax returns in the correct page order and stapled together. 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 with these details:

    • Date when they opened the bank account;

    • The amount deposited in the last year;

    • The present balance;

  • Statement from the sponsor’s employer with these details:

    • The dates and position of the employment;

    • The salary;

    • Whether the job is permanent or temporary;

  • If the sponsor is self-employed, they must submit these documents:

    • Their last income tax returns;

    • Reports of the commercial rating concern;

  • If the sponsor has bonds, they must submit the serial numbers, denominations, and the name of the owners.

If the applicant has a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must also submit:

  • Form I-864A;

  • Proof that they are a US citizen or LPR by submitting:

    • a birth certificate;

    • S passport;

    • naturalization certificate, or

    • permanent resident card.

  • Their most recent tax returns;

  • Proof of their assets such as ownership, location, and values.

What are the Fees for the Affidavit of Support?

There are no fees to file the Affidavit of Support to USCIS. But, when USCIS has all the documents and the priority date becomes current, they send them to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC processes the documents to determine the applicant’s eligibility. The processing of the Affidavit of Support for the NVC is then $120.

The NVC will send the applicant their case number and invoice ID number. The applicant can then make the payment by following the NVC’s instructions.

How Long Does it Take to Process the Affidavit of Support?

The processing time of the Affidavit of Support takes at least 6 weeks. After the NVC receives the documents from USCIS, they process them. The NVC will look at the sponsor’s Affidavit of Support and supporting documents. The applicant must have paid the fees for the Affidavit of Support to receive processing. The NVC will not process the case if a document is missing or if the fees were not paid.

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