What is an Affidavit of Support for immigration?
An Affidavit of Support is a legal contract and form used in U.S. immigration applications to demonstrate that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) has the financial means to financially support an intending immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public charge in the United States. The purpose of the affidavit is to ensure that immigrants entering the U.S. have adequate financial support and will not rely on government assistance for their basic needs.
The Affidavit of Support is typically required in family-based immigration cases, including marriage-based green card applications and certain family preference categories. The U.S. citizen or green card holder who is sponsoring the intending immigrant (the beneficiary) is the one who completes and submits the Affidavit of Support to the U.S. government.
Key points about the Affidavit of Support:
- Form I-864: The Affidavit of Support form is officially known as Form I-864. The form collects information about the sponsor’s income, household size, assets, and other financial details.
- Financial Responsibility: By signing the Affidavit of Support, the sponsor legally commits to financially support the intending immigrant and ensure they do not become a public charge for a specified period of time.
- Minimum Income Requirement: The sponsor’s income must generally be at least 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines for their household size. The specific requirement can vary based on factors such as household size, location, and the immigration category.
- Supporting Documentation: The sponsor is required to provide supporting documentation to prove their income and financial resources. This can include tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, pay stubs, employment letters, and evidence of assets.
- Joint Sponsors: If the sponsor’s income does not meet the minimum requirement, a joint sponsor (another individual who meets the income criteria) can submit a separate Affidavit of Support to supplement the financial support.
- Duration of Obligation: The sponsor’s obligation under the Affidavit of Support generally continues until the beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period, or until they are credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work.
- Legal Consequences: If the sponsored immigrant receives certain forms of government assistance, the sponsor’s obligation to reimburse the government for those benefits may be triggered.
The Affidavit of Support is a significant component of the immigration process and has legal implications. Sponsors should carefully review the instructions and guidelines provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and provide accurate and truthful information. It’s recommended to consult the official USCIS website or seek legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about completing the Affidavit of Support.
Affidavit of Support checklist of required documents
When completing the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) for a U.S. immigration application, there are specific documents and evidence that you need to provide to demonstrate your ability to financially support the intending immigrant. While individual circumstances may vary, here’s a general checklist of required documents and information you might need when preparing the Affidavit of Support:
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: Complete and sign Form I-864 accurately and provide all requested information.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency: Include copies of your U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or green card.
- Proof of Income: Provide evidence of your income to meet the income requirement, generally at least 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines for your household size. This may include:
- Copies of your most recent federal tax returns (including all schedules and W-2 forms).
- Copies of recent pay stubs or earnings statements.
- Proof of other sources of income, such as retirement benefits, rental income, or investments.
- Proof of Current Employment: Provide documents that confirm your current employment, such as an employment letter, recent pay stubs, and proof of any overtime or bonuses.
- Proof of Assets (if applicable): If you plan to use assets to supplement your income, provide documentation of these assets, such as bank statements, investment statements, property deeds, and valuation reports.
- Federal Tax Return Transcript: Include a copy of your most recent federal tax return transcript, which can be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Form W-2 and 1099: Include copies of your Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) and Form 1099 (Miscellaneous Income) from your employer or clients.
- Proof of Other Support (if applicable): If you are combining your income with the income of a joint sponsor or household member, provide their completed Form I-864 and the required income documentation.
- Marriage Certificate (if applicable): If you are sponsoring a spouse, include a copy of your marriage certificate to demonstrate the relationship.
- Divorce Decrees (if applicable): If you have been married and divorced previously, provide copies of divorce decrees to demonstrate the termination of those marriages.
- Dependent Information (if applicable): If you have dependents that are not included in the intending immigrant’s application, provide information about them and documentation of their relationship to you.
- Translation of Documents (if applicable): If any documents are not in English, provide certified translations along with the original documents.
It’s important to ensure that the documents you provide are accurate, up-to-date, and complete. USCIS may request additional evidence or clarification if they find discrepancies or if additional information is needed to make a determination. Remember that specific requirements can vary based on your individual situation and changes in immigration policies. Always consult the official USCIS website and instructions for Form I-864 for the most accurate and up-to-date information on required documents and evidence. If you have concerns or questions, consider seeking advice from an immigration attorney.
Affidavit of Support filing fee
There is no separate filing fee specifically for the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) itself. However, please note that USCIS fees and policies can change over time, so I recommend visiting the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most up-to-date information regarding filing fees.
The Affidavit of Support is typically submitted as part of a broader immigration application, such as a family-based green card application or certain immigrant visa applications. Each of these applications may have its own associated filing fees.
When preparing your immigration application package, be sure to review the USCIS instructions for the specific form you are filing. The instructions will provide details about the required forms, supporting documentation, and any applicable filing fees. If you have any doubts or questions, consider consulting an immigration attorney or checking the USCIS website for accurate and current fee information.