When sponsoring a family member or friend for a green card, you will need to submit an affidavit of support which is also called Form I-864. Filling out Form I-864 can be challenging, especially if you have never done it before.
In this article, we will share tips on what information should be included in your affidavit, when exactly such a document is needed, and how to ensure that it meets all requirements of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Affidavit of Support, Explained
An affidavit of support is a legally enforceable document that affirms that the sponsor (U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident) signing it will provide the beneficiary the financial support when the beneficiary is immigrating to the United States of America.
For example, when an individual is sponsoring your green card application, you may be required to submit an affidavit of support Under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The Affidavit of Support is typically required when a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident is sponsoring a family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent, for immigration to the U.S. It is also required for certain types of employment-based visas.
An affidavit of support is taken very seriously by the U.S. immigration authorities because it represents a binding commitment on the part of the sponsor to financially support the intending immigrant. For this reason, if the immigrant becomes a public charge, the sponsor may be responsible for repaying any benefits received.
Who Should Write an Affidavit of Support for a Green Card?
You will need to provide an affidavit of support if you are the sponsor of an immigrant coming to the United States on a family-based green card or immigrant visa. The same applies if the immigrant already resides in the United States but would like to adjust their status to obtain a green card.
Sponsors should only file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA) if they are completely confident they can meet the income requirements outlined in it. It’s important to understand that an affidavit of support is not just a promise to help financially if things go down south – it’s a legally binding contract with significant legal implication.
What Are the Requirements for the Sponsor Writing the Affidavit of Support?
The basic affidavit of support requirements includes the following:
- It must contain the petitioner’s name and signature,
- The petitioner must be at least 18 years of age and above,
- The petitioner must show proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency,
- The petitioner must show that their primary residence is in the United States. If they do not live in the United States, they must show that their residence abroad is temporary.
- The petitioner must demonstrate that they meet the minimum income requirements based on their household member size. In other words, the financial sponsor must have an annual income that is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Generally, the more people there are in your household, the higher your income will need to be to meet the requirements.
Responsibilities of a Green Card Sponsor Signing Immigration Form I-864
As a Green Card sponsor, you are responsible for financially supporting your sponsored family member or a friend during their time in the United States. This includes ensuring they have enough money to support themselves.
You will also ensure that the sponsored individual does not become a public charge, meaning they cannot rely on the government for financial support and other public benefits. In addition, you will need to sign the Affidavit of Support confirming that you accept financial responsibility for the immigrant.
How to Write an Affidavit of Support for a Green Card as a Sponsor?
Before writing an Affidavit of Support, the sponsor should first gather evidence of their income and assets. This can include pay stubs, federal income tax returns, bank statements, and property ownership documents.
However, in the event that the sponsor cannot provide financial support to the green card beneficiary, the applicant (green card beneficiary) may be able to find a co-sponsor to help with the costs. The joint sponsor must also meet the financial requirements as the primary sponsor, except they do not need to be related to the green card beneficiary.
The co-sponsor must also sign the affidavit of support.
Sponsor’s Affidavit of Support Outline
The sponsor’s Affidavit of Support for a green card has several parts. Knowing the kind of information required to complete Form I-864 allows you to prepare all the necessary documents in advance.
Here’s an overview of the kind of information the sponsor must provide in the form, including the specific sections:
- Part 1: Basis for filing the affidavit of support and the sponsor’s contact information,
- Part 2: information about the principal immigrant,
- Part 3: Information about other immigrants being sponsored,
- Part 4: Information about the sponsor,
- Part 5: Information about the sponsor’s household size,
- Part 6: Information about the sponsor’s employment and income,
- Part 7: Information about assets to supplement the sponsor’s income,
- Part 8: Sponsor’s Declaration of Support,
- Part 9: Interpreter’s information, if applicable
- Part 10: Information about the individual preparing the affidavit, if applicable
- Part 11: Additional information, if applicable
Keep in mind that the USCIS may update these forms at any time. Therefore, failure to file an Affidavit of Support using the right form could lead to automatic rejection. To avoid this, you can find the most up-to-date Affidavit of Support form on the USCIS website.
Making Your Affidavit of Support for Green Card Sponsorship Bulletproof
Based on our experience, here are six tips to improve your affidavit and increase your chances of success.
1) Meeting Income Requirements | Navigating the Financial Maze
Sponsors must carefully assess your financial situation and calculate your household income, which should exceed the federal poverty guidelines for the household size. Consider using online calculators from reputable websites.
2) Staying Updated with USCIS Requirements | Navigating Changing Tides
You as a sponsor must stay up-to-date with USCIS forms. Remember, these forms can change without you being notified. Thus, regularly checking the USCIS website is definitely something you should consider when filling out the form over a period of several days or weeks.
3) Joint-sponsorship | A Trusty Ally in Financial Support
If you as a sponsor don’t meet the income requirements on your own, consider joint-sponsorship option. Both the original sponsor and co-sponsor must work together to fulfill the affidavit requirements and support the Green Card applicant.
4) Document Preparation | A Strategic Plan for Success
Prepare your proof of income, assets, and other supporting evidence by gathering and organizing all documents before you start filling out the form. Make sure that all the documents are valid, up-to-date, and complete.
5) Professionalism and Truthfulness | Upholding Integrity
You as the sponsor are required to approach the the affidavit process with utmost integrity, professionalism, honesty, truthfulness and attention to detail. Remember, providing false information (intentionally or unintentionally) in the affidavit may have legal repercussions, including fines, penalties, and even denial of the Green Card application.
6) Utilizing Additional Resources | Gaining Valuable Insights
If you are struggling to fill out the Form I-864, consider contacting a qualified immigration attorney or browse legal immigration guide online.
Can a Sponsor’s Affidavit of Support Be Withdrawn?
Yes, the sponsor can cancel the Affidavit of Support by writing to the USCIS or an Immigration Court before the approval of the Green Card.
Can You Lie On the Affidavit of Support?
Falsifying an affidavit will lead to automatic denial by the USCIS officer reviewing the petition. You may also be subject to criminal prosecution under the laws of the United States.
Keep in mind that the USCIS reserves the right to further investigate the affidavit, including but not limited to verifying the sponsor’s employment records, tax returns, and other relevant information.
Does Every Green Card Applicant Require an Affidavit of Support?
No. You may not need a sponsor’s affidavit if you meet the following conditions:
- You have earned or can be credited with 40 quarters of work credit in the United States, which basically means having worked for at least 10 years in the United States.
- You have an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special immigrant filed as a self-petitioning widower or widow.
- You have an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant as an abused spouse or child.
- You are an orphan fully adopted by a U.S. citizen abroad before acquiring a green card, and both adoptive parents have met you before or during the adoption process.
Can Green Card Sponsors Join their Income to Meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines?
No, a primary sponsor and a co-sponsor (joint sponsor) cannot join their income to meet the government’s household income requirements. Instead, each individual sponsor must have an annual income of at least 125% of U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Does Divorce End Form I-864 Obligations?
No, divorce alone does not automatically end the sponsor’s obligations under Form I-864. The sponsor’s financial obligations under Form I-864 continue until the intending immigrant(s) become a U.S. citizen, has worked for 10 years or can be credited with 40 quarters of work in the United States. This rule applies even if the sponsor gets divorced from the immigrant.
However, there are some circumstances where a divorce may end the sponsor’s obligations. For example, the obligations under Form I-864 will end if the intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident and acquires a new spouse who is also a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident or if the sponsor dies.
In some cases, the sponsor may be able to request a formal termination of the obligation through a court order or by contacting USCIS. However, this can be difficult to achieve and may require the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney.