Affidavit of Support

USCIS Form I-864 Affidavit of Support – Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support?

A: Form I-864 is a legally enforceable agreement wherein the sponsor commits to providing support to the foreign national.  It is used when filing a green card by marriage to a US Citizen petition.

Q: Is Form I-864 a Legally Binding Contract?

A: A signed Form I-864 Affidavit of Support creates a legally binding contract between the sponsor, the foreign national and the federal, state and local governments whose resources may be recouped should the foreign national receive any assistance from governmental agencies.

Q: When does the sponsor’s obligation to support end?

A: The sponsorship obligation continues until the sponsored alien naturalizes, has worked or can be credited with 40 quarters of work, leaves the United States permanently, or dies. The sponsor or the sponsor’s estate remains liable for any support or requests for repayment of benefits that arose before the support obligation ended.

Q: How will the affidavit of support be enforced?

A: Agencies that provide means-tested public benefits to sponsored immigrants will be able to request reimbursement from sponsors for the amount of benefits that they provide and sue them if they do not repay.

USCIS will provide information to benefit providing agencies on the names and addresses of sponsors; these agencies, not USCIS, will be involved in the enforcement of affidavits of support.

If sponsors do not provide basic support to the immigrants they bring to the United States, the sponsored immigrants may sue their sponsors.

Q: Does divorce nullify the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support?

A: No, divorce does not nullify the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.

Q: Does the petitioner have to file an affidavit of support if he or she cannot meet the income requirements and there is a joint sponsor?

A: Yes. The petitioner is still a sponsor and must file an affidavit of support, even if he or she cannot meet the income requirements. The petitioner remains fully liable, along with the joint sponsor, for any benefits the sponsored immigrant(s) may use. The joint sponsor must file a separate affidavit of support.

Q: What Are the Income Requirements?

A: To qualify as a sponsor, you must demonstrate that your income is at least 125 percent of the current Federal poverty guideline for your household size. The Federal poverty line is updated annually and can be found on I-864P-income requirements-2012:

If you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, and you are sponsoring your spouse or minor child, you only need to have an income of 100 percent of the Federal poverty line for your household size. This provision does not apply to joint or substitute sponsors.

Q: How is household size determined for the purposes of the I-864?

A: Household size is the sum of:

Yourself (The petitioner – US Citizen Spouse);

Your foreign national spouse (beneficiary);

any dependent children under the age of 21 (no matter where they live);

any other dependents listed on your most recent Federal income tax return (no matter where they live);

all persons being sponsored in this affidavit of support,

Any immigrants previously sponsored with a Form I-864 or Form I-864 EZ affidavit of support whom you are still obligated to support.

If necessary to meet the income requirements to be a sponsor, you may include additional relatives (adult children, parents, or siblings) as part of your household size as long as they have the same principle residence as you and promise to use their income and resources in support of the intending immigrant(s). The relatives(s) would complete and sign form I-864A.

Q: What required supporting documents are submitted with the I-864 Affidavit of Support

A: All sponsors must submit the following documentation with their I-864:

Proof of current employment or self employment.

A photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of a photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of your complete Federal income tax return for your most recent tax year, or an explanation if it is not submitted.

Your W-2s and/or 1099 forms for your most recent tax year.

You may also, at your option, submit a photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of your complete Federal income tax returns for your second and third most recent tax years if you believe these additional tax returns may help you establish the ability to maintain your household income at the governing threshold set forth in Form I-864P, Poverty Guidelines.

If you are using the income of persons in your household or dependents to qualify as a sponsor, you must also submit a separate Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, for each person whose income you will use.

Q: What types of evidence can be used to show current employment?

A: A letter from an employer including beginning date of employment, type of work performed, and wages or salary paid.

Q: What types of evidence can be used to show self-employment?

A: Self-employed persons are required to show a copyt of their business license (if applicable), and the self-employment schedules they filed with their income tax returns.

Q: Can the petitioner (US Citizen) or joint sponsor count assets to meet the 125 percent minimum income requirement?

A: Yes. The sponsor would count his/her income first. If not sufficient s/he may count personal assets and/or the income and assets of qualifying household members who have signed an I-864A.

If, using all of those sources, the minimum income requirement is met, the affidavit would be “sufficient.”

The cash value of assets must equal five times the difference between the sponsor’s income and 125 percent of the poverty line for the indicated household size.

Q: How can a petitioner (US Citizen) or joint sponsor who was obligated to file tax returns, but failed to do so, qualify as a sponsor?

A: A sponsor may file a late or amended tax return to IRS. He or she can then submit copies of the late or amended return(s) for the year(s) in which he or she was obligated to file. Until such time as the late or amended return has been filed, the I-864 will be considered incomplete.

Q: If the sponsor owns a business, should he/she submit individual or business tax returns?

A: Individual tax returns (Form 1040) are required, since it is the individual and not the business who is sponsoring the applicant(s).

Q: How Can I Use Assets to Qualify?

A: Assets may supplement income if the immigration officer is convinced that the monetary value of the asset could reasonably be made available to support the sponsored immigrant and converted to cash within one year without undue harm to the sponsor or his or her family members. You may not include an automobile unless you show that you own at least one working automobile that you have not included.

Q: What assets can be used?

A: Any type of asset can be used if it is readily convertible to cash within a year. Liquid assets, such as savings deposits, stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposit will be viewed most favorably because they would be most accessible for the support of sponsored immigrants. Other assets, such as property, may also be acceptable if they can be sold within a year.

Q: What evidence of assets is required?

A: Evidence establishing ownership and the value and location of assets is required. Information on any liens and/or liabilities relating to these assets must be provided. For bank accounts, bank statements for the most recent 12 months, or a letter from the bank stating the date the account was opened, a history of deposits and withdrawals for the past year, and the current balance are needed.

Q: Can the petitioner (US Citizen) or joint sponsor who receives housing and other benefits instead of salary count those benefits as income?

A: Yes. The sponsor may count income that is not subject to taxation (such as a housing allowance), as well as taxable income.

However the sponsor must prove the nature and the amount of any income if it is not included as wages/salary or other taxable income.

Evidence of such income can be shown through notations on the W-2 Form (such as box 13, for military allowances), Form 1099, or other documents that substantiate the claimed income.

Q: Can a credible offer of employment for the applicant (foreign national spouse) replace or supplement an insufficient affidavit of support?

A: No. The law does not make any provision for the consideration of offers of employment in lieu of the I-864. An offer of employment may not be counted in reaching the 125 percent minimum income.

Q: What if the petitioner (US Citizen) cannot meet the 125 percent minimum income requirement?

A: If the petitioner (US Citizen) cannot meet the 125 percent minimum income requirement, they require a joint sponsor.

Q: What is a joint sponsor.

A: A joint sponsor is a person who is not the petitioner for the sponsored immigrant but who meets the citizenship, residence, and age requirements and who meets the 125 percent minimum income requirement for his or her household size.

Joint sponsors are permitted when the petitioner cannot meet the income requirements or has died before all family members have immigrated.

Q: Who can be a joint sponsor?

A: Joint sponsors must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; age 18 or over; and live in one of the 50 States, Washington, DC, or a US territory or possession.

Q: Is there a limit on the number of joint sponsors?

A: There is no limit on the number of joint sponsors; but each joint sponsor must meet the 125 percent of the poverty line income requirement for their household size.

Q: What are the responsibilities of a joint sponsor?

A: Joint sponsors must accept joint legal responsibility for supporting sponsored immigrant(s) and reimbursing the cost of any means-tested public benefit used until the sponsored immigrants naturalize, can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work, depart the United States permanently, or die.

Q: Are joint sponsors required to attend the interview?

A. No, joint sponsors are not required to attend the interview.

However the petitioner (US Citizen) must bring the joint sponsor’s supporting documents (employment verification, copy of most recent years 1040 IRS tax return and W-2) to the interview.

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