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Form I-864: Ensuring Financial Support for Family Immigration

What is an Affidavit of Support?

An Affidavit of Support is a legal document in the context of immigration to the United States. It is a requirement for certain family-based and employment-based immigration applications, where the U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner (sponsor) agrees to financially support the intending immigrant (beneficiary) and ensure they will not become a public burden.

The primary purpose of the Affidavit of Support is to demonstrate that the intending immigrant will have adequate financial support available and will not rely on government assistance for their basic needs. This is to ensure that immigrants entering the U.S. have financial backing and won’t require public welfare programs.

The most common form used for the Affidavit of Support is Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA.” The sponsor’s signature on this form is legally binding, and it indicates that the sponsor is willing to provide financial support to the immigrant beneficiary at a minimum level that is set by the U.S. government, usually at or above the federal poverty guidelines.

Key points to understand about the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864):

  • Financial Responsibility: The sponsor’s commitment is not only to provide financial support but also to reimburse any means-tested public benefits that the sponsored immigrant receives.
  • Eligibility: The Affidavit of Support is typically required for family-based immigrant visa applications, including spouses, parents, and certain other relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Income Requirements: Sponsors are required to meet certain income thresholds based on their household size to demonstrate the ability to support the immigrant. If their income falls short, they may need to find a joint sponsor or provide additional evidence of assets.
  • Duration: The sponsor’s obligation under the Affidavit of Support lasts until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked for 40 qualifying quarters (usually about 10 years), dies, or leaves the U.S. permanently.
  • Legal Consequences: The financial obligations outlined in the Affidavit of Support are legally enforceable, and sponsors can be sued for reimbursement of means-tested public benefits provided to the immigrant beneficiary.

It’s important to note that the Affidavit of Support is a significant responsibility, and sponsors should carefully consider their ability to meet the financial requirements before signing the document. Consulting with an immigration attorney or seeking guidance from official U.S. government resources is recommended to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues.

How to fill out Form I-864?

Filling out Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, is an important step in the immigration process to ensure that the intending immigrant has financial support and won’t become a public burden. Here’s a general guide on how to fill out Form I-864:

  • Download the Form: Visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (uscis.gov) and search for “Form I-864.” Download the latest version of the form and its instructions.
  • Read the Instructions: Before you start filling out the form, carefully read the instructions provided with Form I-864. The instructions will guide you through each section and provide important information about the requirements and supporting documentation.
  • Gather Required Documents: Collect the necessary supporting documents, including proof of income, tax transcripts or returns, evidence of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, and any other required documentation.
  • Complete the Form: Follow these steps to complete Form I-864:
  • Part 1 – Basis for Filing: Provide information about the immigration application, the intending immigrant, and the relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant beneficiary.
  • Part 2 – Household Size: Indicate the number of people in your household, including the intending immigrant and any dependents.
  • Part 3 – Income: Provide your current annual income and the sources of that income. If your income is from employment, attach copies of your recent pay stubs, a letter from your employer, and any other relevant income documentation.
  • Part 4 – Contract between Sponsor and Household Member: If you’re using the income of a household member to meet the income requirements, complete this section with their information and supporting documentation.
  • Part 5 – Sponsor’s Employment and Education: Provide details about your employment and education history.
  • Part 6 – Sponsor’s Assets: If you’re relying on assets to meet the income requirements, provide details about your assets, such as real estate, savings accounts, stocks, etc. Include evidence of ownership and value.
  • Part 7 – Sponsor’s Other Information: Provide additional information about your residency and tax history.
  • Sign and Date: Sign and date the form in the designated areas. Make sure you sign the form before a notary public, if required.
  • Gather Supporting Documents: Attach all required supporting documents as outlined in the instructions. This may include tax transcripts or returns, pay stubs, proof of assets, proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, and any other relevant documentation.
  • Submit the Form: Make a copy of the completed form and all supporting documents for your records. Submit the original form and supporting documents along with the immigration application package as directed in the specific immigration instructions.
  • Keep Copies: It’s important to keep copies of the completed Form I-864 and all supporting documents for your records. The financial obligations outlined in the form are legally enforceable, so maintaining accurate records is crucial.

Remember, the instructions provided with Form I-864 are your primary guide. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the form, consider seeking assistance from an immigration attorney or a qualified professional to ensure accuracy and compliance with the requirements.

What documents must be submitted with the Affidavit of Support?

When submitting the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), you need to include various supporting documents to verify your financial information and ensure that you meet the income requirements. The specific documents required can vary based on your individual circumstances and the relationship between the sponsor and the intending immigrant beneficiary. 

However, here is a general list of documents that are commonly required to be submitted along with Form I-864: https://bwea.com/affidavit-of-support-checklist-form-i-864/

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency: Include a copy of your U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or permanent resident card (green card) as evidence of your status.
  • Tax Documents: Depending on your situation, you may need to provide one or more of the following:
  • Copies of your federal tax returns (Form 1040) for the most recent tax year.
  • Copies of all supporting tax documents, such as W-2s, 1099s, and schedules.
  • IRS tax transcripts for the most recent tax year. These can be obtained from the IRS website or by filing Form 4506-T.
  • Proof of Income: To demonstrate your ability to financially support the intending immigrant, you may need to include the following:
  • Copies of recent pay stubs.
  • Employment verification letter detailing your job position, salary, and employment duration.
  • If self-employed, provide proof of your business ownership and income, such as business licenses, financial statements, and tax returns.
  • Proof of Assets: If you are relying on assets to meet the income requirements, you may need to provide documents showing ownership and value of assets, such as:
  • Bank statements.
  • Property deeds.
  • Statements for stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and other investments.
  • Proof of Current Employment: Provide documentation that confirms your current employment, such as recent pay stubs or an employer letter.
  • Proof of Residency: Provide evidence of your current residence in the United States, such as utility bills, rental agreements, or mortgage statements.
  • Sponsor’s Federal Income Tax Returns and Transcripts: If you are sponsoring a family member based on your income, you may need to include copies of your federal income tax returns and transcripts for the most recent tax years.
  • Proof of Relationship: Depending on the relationship between the sponsor and the intending immigrant, you may need to provide evidence of the family relationship, such as marriage certificates or birth certificates.
  • Other Documentation: Any additional documents that may be relevant to your financial situation and ability to provide support, such as proof of alimony or child support payments, proof of disability benefits, and so on.

Remember that the specific documents required can vary based on your circumstances and the immigration category you’re applying for. Always refer to the instructions provided with Form I-864 and any specific instructions provided by USCIS or the U.S. embassy or consulate handling the immigration application for accurate and up-to-date information on the required supporting documents. If you’re unsure about which documents to include, consider seeking assistance from an immigration attorney or a qualified professional.

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