Samuel Laman Blanchard once said, “The scarcity of truth is atoned for by the abundance of affidavits; if a rumor is impugned, its veracity is easily strengthened by the…continue reading
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What Is Affidavit Of Support?
An Affidavit of Support is a document that a friend or family member who agrees to accept financial responsibility for you submits with your green card visa application. Your financial sponsor is usually the same person sponsoring your marriage green card. To file an Affidavit of Support, your spouse must submit Form I-864 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agency, on your behalf. They will have to provide identifying information, such as their social security number and additional information, including financial status. If applicable, they will indicate if they have active-duty status in the U.S. armed forces. Every green card applicant must file Form I-864 as part of their application.
An affidavit of support is a contract signed by the sponsor to show that the person applying for a green card is not likely to become a “public charge.” “Public charge” is a term that has been used for many years to describe people who are dependent on the government.
Types of Affidavits of Support:
There are different variations of Form I-864 you may have to submit with your application. You will need to file at least one and possibly two if your sponsoring spouse does not meet income requirements.
What Happens if You Cannot Meet the Minimum Income Requirements?
If you cannot meet the minimum income requirements using your earned income, you have different options:
You may add the cash value of your assets. This includes money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and property. To determine the amount of assets required to qualify, subtract your household income from the minimum income requirement (125% of the poverty level for your family size). You must prove the cash value of your assets is worth five times this difference.
- If the person being sponsored is a spouse, or son/daughter (who is 18 years or older) of a U.S. citizen: The minimum cash value of assets must be three times the difference between the sponsor’s household income and 125% of the federal poverty guide line for the household.
- You may count the assets of the relatives you are sponsoring.
- If the person being sponsored is an orphan coming to the United States for adoption: The adoptive parents’ assets need to equal or exceed the difference between the household income and 125% of the federal poverty line for the household size.
- You may count the income and assets of members of your household who are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption. To use their income, you must have listed them as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months. They must also complete a Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. If the relative you are sponsoring meets these criteria you may include the value of their income and assets, but the immigrant does not need to complete Form I-864A unless he or she has accompanying family members.
What Is the Affidavit of Support Document Files?
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 Financial Obligations of a Financial Sponsor?
By filing the completed Form I-864, your spouse agrees to a contract with the U.S. government to financially support you and prevent you from becoming a public charge or dependent on public benefits. Government agencies can force your spouse to repay any public benefits you use after obtaining your green card, such as Supplemental Insurance Income (SSI). This rule does not apply to all benefits, so check the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services guidelines.
Your spouse’s responsibilities expire when any of these circumstances happen:
- You or your spouse dies
- You become a U.S. citizen through naturalization
- You work for 40 quarters in the United States
- You permanently move out of the United States
Your spouse’s responsibilities do not expire if they move. They are obligated to file Form I-865, Sponsor’s Change of Address, within 30 days of an address change or risk a fine from the government.
If your spouse has been a financial sponsor for anyone in the past and the obligation has not expired, those dependents will count when your spouse files a new Affidavit of Support.
How to Fill Out the Affidavit of Support:
Tip # 1: Use the Latest Version of Form I-864
You should always use the latest version of any USCIS immigration form to prepare your applications. Attention: If you submit the outdated version of any immigration form, USCIS will reject your application.
Step 1: Basis for Filing Affidavit of Support
This part identifies your relation to the immigration application. Provide your full legal name (the sponsor) in the space provided, then select the Item Number that reflects your basis for filing Form I-864.
Step 2: Information About the Principal Immigrant
This is the primary immigrant in the immigration case you are sponsoring. Provide information about the primary immigrant only in Part 2.
Step 3: Information About the Immigrants you are Sponsoring
Here, you must state which individual or individuals you are choosing to sponsor. You may have been sponsoring only the Principal Immigrant, or you may have been sponsoring additional individuals immigrating together with the Principal Immigrant.
Step 4: Information About You (Sponsor)
Once you (sponsor) fill all the details regarding your full legal name and the corresponding addresses, you will be directed to the next sections.
Step 5: Sponsor’s Household Size
You need to provide USCIS the total number of people you’ll be financially responsible for. Be careful with the counting. Do not count the same member of your household twice. For instance, if you are sponsoring the spouse, who’s currently residing with you, do not count him/her twice. In such case, you can enter “0” in item 3 “If you are currently married, enter “1” for your spouse” to avoid counting your spouse twice. This way, you will have the accurate household size in Form I-864.
Step 6: Sponsor’s Employment and Income
Here, the sponsor needs to provide detailed information about his/her employment.
Step 7: Sponsor’s Contract, Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature
The immigration service will reject your Affidavit, if it contains any errors. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to spend time carefully reviewing the form. Read the contract carefully, then sign and date the affidavit.
Step 8: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
If an interpreter helped you to complete Form I-864, he or she will have to complete. This section will ask for all the details of the interpreter. He/she must fill in these sections carefully, followed by signing and dating your affidavit.
Step 9: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Affidavit, if Other Than the Sponsor
The preparer who helped you with filling out Form I-864, will have to complete this part. If the person who completed this affidavit is associated with a business or organization, he/she should complete the business or organization name and address information. Anyone (attorney, friend, family member, etc.) who helped you complete this affidavit must sign and date the affidavit.
Step 10: Additional Information
This section is for you to provide any additional information in the affidavit. You can also make copies of this section, for extra space and file it with your affidavit. Do not forget to sign your form. Remember, USCIS will reject any unsigned form.
What Is the Validity of Form I-864?
As an affidavit of support, Form I-864 does not expire, unless the person who is being sponsored becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked 40 quarters of work in the U.S. (usually 10 years), or leaves the U.S.
Are Affidavits of Support Enforceable?
It is a binding contract by the sponsor for support of the immigrant and potentially for repayment of certain benefits received by the immigrant. It depends on which type of affidavit the sponsor signed. There are two major types of affidavits. The “non-enforceable” affidavit of support (USCIS Form I?134), which was the main form used before December 19, 1997, is still used by some immigrants. The “enforceable” affidavit of support (USCIS Form I?864) has been used since December 19, 1997.
Which Immigrants Do Not Need an Affidavit of Support?
Many categories of immigrants are not required to have a sponsor file an affidavit of support on their behalf, including: refugees and asylees applying for a green card, people applying for a green card who are in the following categories: applying through “registry” (having resided in the U.S. since before Jan. 1, 1972), applying under the Nicaraguan Adjustment or the Cuban American Relief Act, applying under the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act or the Cuban Adjustment Act, certain Indochinese, Polish, and Hungarian parolees, self-petitioners under the Violence Against Women Act, survivors of trafficking or other serious crimes, and applying as special immigrant juveniles.
Can Immigrants Whose Sponsor Signed An “Enforceable” Affidavit Get Public Benefits?
Yes, of course. Immigrants whose sponsors signed “enforceable” affidavits may be eligible for certain public benefits, including emergency Medicaid.
When NOT to Submit an Affidavit of Support?
The following types of people do not need to file an affidavit of support: an individual who has earned or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters (credits) of work in the United States; an individual who has an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant as a self-petitioning widow or widower; an individual who has an approved Form I-360 as a battered spouse or child; or orphans adopted by U.S. citizens abroad if a full and formal adoption takes place before the orphan acquires permanent residence and both adoptive parents have seen the child before or during the adoption.
Working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier to file an Affidavit of Support. If you cannot afford the attorney fees and do not want to handle your green card case alone, there are legal counsels that will help you out. Just take note that the sponsor must read and follow the instructions. Any mistake on the form will delay the processing of the visa. And incorrect or fraudulent information may lead to USCIS denying the Green Card of the applicant.