What is an Affidavit of Support?
When an individual applies for an immigration visa to the United States, they must either prove they can be financially independent as to not put a strain on the government or find a sponsor who will become financially responsible for the immigrant. The Affidavit of Support is Form I-864 and must be completed by the sponsor and submitted to the National Visa Center for review.
How to Qualify as a Sponsor
You must meet the following criteria:
You may find a joint sponsor who would share the legal responsibility over the immigrant with you. Joint sponsors must follow all of the above listed criteria but does not need to be related to the immigrant. It is important to note that you and the joint sponsor must meet the income minimum requirements individually.
- U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
- Person who files the visa petition for the immigrant
- At least 18 years old
- Make an income at least 125% of Federal poverty level for your household
Who Needs to Submit an Affidavit of Support?
- Under family member immigration, immediate and qualifying relatives of U.S. Citizens need to submit an Affidavit of Support (I-864) and should specify the preference according to the relationship below:
- First preference: The unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of U.S. Citizens
- Second preference: Spouses or unmarried children of permanent residents
- Third preference: Married children of U.S. Citizens, their spouses and children
- Fourth preference: Siblings of U.S. Citizens, their spouses and children
- Employment based immigration applicants who had a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file the visa application petition
Who Does NOT Need to Submit an Affidavit of Support?
- Individuals who have already worked 40 qualifying quarters as specified by Title II in the Social Security Act
- Children of U.S. Citizens or permanent residents on or after February 27, 2001.
Supporting Evidence Required
- Statement from an official at bank or other financial institution with the following details:
- Account opening date
- Total amount deposited from the past year
- Current balance
- Statement from employer on business document with:
- Date and role details
- Wage and salary information
- Length of contract (temporary or permanent position)
- If self-employed:
- Copy of last filed tax return; or
- Report of commercial rating concern (business credit rating)
- List containing details of bonds and bond holders including serial numbers and denominations
Difference between I-134 and I-864
Most foreign nationals that petition through family member sponsorship require an Affidavit of Support form. However, there are two versions of the Affidavit of Support: Form I-134 and Form I-864. While both forms are to demonstrate the applicant entering the U.S. is a lawful person capable of financially supporting oneself, there a differences in the forms.
Form I-864 is a legally binding document that supports that the applicant will not become a public charge and can financially support oneself. I-864 is used by a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who is sponsoring a family member’s green card. You can learn more about requirements of Form I-134.
Form I-134 is a non-legal binding document that serves the similar purpose as Form I-864. Unlike I-864, I-134 is used by non-immigrant visitor visas. Examples includes applicants entering the U.S. on tourist or student visa. (e.g., J-1 Visa) Applicant should pay attention to which form is required as filling out the wrong form can lead to petition rejection.
What is the Latest Form I-864 Edition?
The latest edition of Form I-864 is the 12/23/16 edition. This version can be found on the Department of Homeland Security website.
What are the Required Documents for Form I-864?
The following documents are required to be submitted when preparing a Form I-864:
1. Evidence of the sponsor’s ability to financially support the immigrant:
a. Current year federal income tax return
b. Evidence of assets, such as savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and other investments
c. Evidence of current year income
d. Evidence of any additional sources of income, such as annuities or Social Security benefits
e. Evidence of any other family members who are contributing to the sponsor’s support
2. Evidence that the sponsor has the legal right to work in the U.S.:
a. A valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
b. A valid Social Security Number
c. A U.S. passport
d. Other evidence of legal status in the U.S., such as a valid visa or permanent resident card
3. Evidence that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident:
a. A valid U.S. passport
b. A valid Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card)
c. An official birth certificate showing U.S. citizenship or naturalization documents showing U.S. permanent residency status
How to Submit Form I-864?
1. Gather all the required documents. These include your sponsor’s Form I-864, your sponsor’s passport-style photo, your sponsor’s most recent U.S. income tax return and supporting documents, and any other required documents such as affidavits of support from joint sponsors.
2. Fill out the Form I-864 completely and accurately. All questions must be answered in full, and all required documents must be attached.
3. Make a copy of the Form I-864 for your records.
4. Mail the original Form I-864 and all the required documents to the USCIS address listed on the form instructions using a trackable mailing method.
5. Track your application using the receipt number you receive from USCIS to confirm receipt of your application and monitor its progress.
What are the Filing Tips for Form I-864?
1. Complete the form accurately and completely: Make sure all the required information is provided in accurate detail, such as dates, addresses, and other personal data.
2. Provide proof of income: You must provide proof of income in the form of your most recent tax return, paycheck stubs, or other forms of verifiable income.
3. Have sponsor sign the form: The sponsor must sign and date the form in order for it to be considered valid.
4. Provide evidence of relationship: The sponsor must provide evidence of their relationship with the immigrant, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate.
5. Submit the form: Submit the completed form with all supporting documents to the USCIS address listed on the form.
Are There Special Instructions for Form I-864?
Yes, there are special instructions for Form I-864. The form must be completed and signed by the sponsor, who is usually the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident submitting the form on behalf of an immigrant visa applicant. Anyone other than the sponsor who completes or signs Form I-864 will be considered to have acted as an attorney and may be subject to penalties of perjury.
What is the Form I-864 Fee?
The Form I-864 fee is the fee required for individuals who are applying for permanent residence in the United States. It is also known as an Affidavit of Support fee, and it goes towards the processing of the application. The fee typically ranges from $120 to $400, depending on the individual’s circumstances.
Can I Apply for Form I-864 Fee Waiver or Reduction?
No, you cannot apply for a Form I-864 fee waiver or reduction. Only certain individuals may be eligible for fee waivers or reductions. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider a fee waiver or reduction request from an individual who demonstrates that he or she is unable to pay the fees associated with the Form I-864 due to:
• Financial hardship;
• Severe medical condition;
• Humanitarian reasons; or
• Other compelling circumstances.
The individual must provide documentation to support the fee waiver or reduction request.
What is the Form I-864 Processing Time?
The Form I-864 processing time varies depending on the applicant’s individual circumstances. Generally, processing times range from 4 to 6 months. The USCIS website provides an online processing time calculator for applicants to estimate the processing time for their application.
Form I-864 Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Form I-864?
A: Form I-864, also known as an Affidavit of Support, is a legal document used by U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor an immigrant for a green card. By signing this form, the sponsor agrees to provide financial support for the immigrant if necessary. This form is required for most family-based immigration petitions.
Q: Who needs to fill out Form I-864?
A: The sponsor needs to fill out Form I-864. The sponsor is usually the petitioner (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) in the family-based immigration petition.
Q: What documents do I need to complete Form I-864?
A: You will need to provide evidence of your income and assets, including pay stubs, tax returns, bank account statements, and other proof of your financial ability to sponsor an immigrant. You may also need to provide proof of your relationship with the immigrant and supporting documents such as birth certificates and marriage certificates.
Q: How long does it take to process Form I-864?
A: Processing times vary depending on the complexity of each individual case but generally it can take up to six months for USCIS to approve or deny the application.
Q: Are there any penalties for not completing Form I-864 accurately and truthfully?
A: Yes, if you fail to provide accurate information or misrepresent facts on your application, you could be held liable for the financial support of the sponsored immigrant in the future. This could mean that you would be required to pay back any government benefits received by the immigrant, such as food stamps or Medicaid.