When the relative of a U.S. citizen or LPR intends to live permanently in the U.S., the citizen will file an affidavit of support. The sponsoring spouse can be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident status holder; they’ll file the form with the USCIS.
This Affidavit of Support, Immigration Form I-864, is a signed document where the spouse accepts financial responsibility for their family member. To petition for and sponsor a foreign national for a green card, the U.S. citizen or LPR must show readiness for financial support.
The essence of the affidavit of support is for the U.S. government to demonstrate that the immigrant is unlikely to rely on need-based government assistance as a joint sponsor. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services require all petitioners to fill out Form I-864, which is available on the USCIS website.
If you have a family member seeking to hold a green card holder status and you’re their sponsor or joint sponsor, this article is for you. Keep reading as we discuss important details about filing for the Immigration Form I-864.
Is an I-864 Required for Marriage-Based Green Card?
The U.S. government requires all marriage green card petitioners and co-sponsors, if any, to submit Form I-864 with evidence of income. These sets of people are legally required to submit the form; the I-864 is legally enforceable for some employment-based and most family-based immigrants.
The form essentially reassures the U.S. government that the immigrant spouse won’t become a liability to the government. It is also important to show that the sponsoring spouse has an adequate income to support their immigrant spouse.
Form I-864 is a legal contract between a United States government agency and the immigrant visa applicant’s sponsor. One of the prerequisites for entering and living in the U.S. is that the sponsor must be able and willing to support the intending immigrant. Once the petitioner and co-sponsors sign Form I-864, they affirm that they will support you on your dependent needs when necessary.
Can a Green Card Holder Do An Affidavit of Support?
A green card holder can act as a joint sponsor for an intending immigrant family member or relation. Such a person cannot qualify as one of a few petitioners for their relative’s green card or any other visa type.
However, they can do an affidavit of support, taking responsibility for the financial support of their immigrant spouse or family member. If you’re holding a green card intending to register as a joint sponsor of an immigrant visa applicant, you’ll file Form I-864 when the latter’s interview has been scheduled.
Additionally, if your spouse already lives in the U.S. and needs support to adjust status to permanent residence, you can file I-864. As a financial sponsor, you’re guaranteeing the U.S. government that the immigrant will receive sufficient financial aid from you. You’re also reassuring the USCIS that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge.
How Many Affidavits Are Needed for a Green Card Through Marriage?
We advise that you submit three to six affidavits, received from different people with different kinds of relationships with the couple. The more affidavits you submit, the better your chances of convincing the USCIS officer that your marriage is real.
They will be impressed that your marriage is made public and that you’ve both disclosed the marital relationship to your respective social network. Meanwhile, there is no requirement as to whether the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or someone who lives in the U.S.
The best person(s) to write the affidavit of support for you is someone who knows your marriage well. Apart from the citizen spouse, you can get the affidavit from close friends, roommates, neighbors you’re close to, and relatives, among others. The ideal thing is to get the affidavit from someone who knew you both before you got married and after.
Is I-864 Required for I-485?
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is one of the required supporting documents required for filing I-485. Form I-864 is required for nearly all family-based petitions, and Form I-485 is a family-based petition.
The form may also be required even if the application is based on the intending immigrant’s current employment status. What the document is needed for makes it all-too-important supporting documentation evidence when applying as lawful permanent residents or family-based green card.
The Affidavit of Support form helps to show that the applicant seeking adjustment of status has sufficient financial support. Furthermore, it reassures government agencies, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and NVC that the applicant won’t rely on the government for support.
How Long Does an Affidavit of Support Last?
The sponsor’s financial responsibility typically lasts as long as the foreign national being sponsored becomes a U.S. citizen or is credited with forty quarters of work. The sponsor’s obligation also ends if the sponsored immigrant dies, ceases to be a lawful permanent resident, or leaves the U.S.
The immigration law related to the affidavit of support is clearly spelt out in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, the affidavit of support must continue even if a couple divorces; divorce does not end the financial responsibility.
The financial sponsor is more often than not the petitioner who filed the immigrant petition on the alien’s behalf. Such an individual becomes the intending immigrant’s legal guardian once the former has become a lawful permanent resident. The Form I-864 is a legally enforceable contract an individual signs to agree to support the intending immigrant with their financial resources.
Who Should Submit the Affidavit of Support?
As required by the immigration law, the following individuals are legally required to submit an affidavit of support:
- The immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen, including the spouses, parents, and unmarried children below 21;
- Relatives who can apply for an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. under four family-based preferences. These include the unmarried, adult sons and daughters (at least 21 years old) of the U.S., in the First Preference category. Permanent residents’ spouses and unmarried children and grandchildren, age regardless, belonging to the Second Preference category.
The Third preference includes the married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses, and unmarried minor children. The fourth preference includes the brothers and sisters of an adult U.S. citizen, as well as their spouses and unmarried minor children.
- Employment-based preference immigrants, particularly when a permanent resident or U.S. citizen relative filed the immigrant visa petition. Otherwise, the relative should have a significant ownership interest of at least 5% in the petitioning entity.
What Do Federal Poverty Guidelines Entail?
To be able to sponsor an immigrant, a petitioner needs to meet a minimum income requirement: the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The Federal Poverty Line is used to determine whether the sponsor meets the minimum annual income requirement; they are on USCIS’s official website.
If a petitioner doesn’t meet this level, they can either find a joint sponsor or use the household member’s income to meet up. That means the additional financial sponsors will, with the primary sponsor, submit individual affidavits of support, proof of income, and proof of legal status.
How Can You Calculate Your Household Size?
When filling out Form I-864, you would be required to fill in your household income size. To calculate that, you must include your spouse, biological, step, or adopted children living with you, and principal visa applicant.
You should also include anyone depending on the sponsor’s tax return, derivative applicants planning to immigrate within six months, and nondependent siblings, parents, or adult children. You’ll also include anyone in the U.S. whom you’re supporting on a different affidavit.
What Are the Consequences of Falsifying an Affidavit?
Knowingly and willfully falsifying an affidavit of support will result in an outright denial of the form and other immigration benefits. Additionally, the guilty will face severe penalties according to immigration law, including criminal prosecution.
The U.S. government is under obligation to verify every information provided on the affidavit, including income, employment, or assets. The assets include those with the applicant’s employer, financial institutions, other institutions, the Social Security Administration, or the IRS.
How Do You File an Affidavit of Support?
The petitioning sponsor, substitute sponsor, or a joint sponsor who is a household member needs to complete Form I-864 when the consular officer has scheduled the immigrant dependent’s immigrant visa interview. You can also file when your family member is about to submit a petition for adjustment of status with the immigration services or any U.S. Immigration Court for intending immigrants.
Every co-sponsor or household member should also file a separate form I-864 affidavit; if you’re using a relative’s income or a sponsor’s income, they must complete a separate Form I-864 supported by an affidavit that establishes minimum income requirements and assets establishing location. After filing the form, you’ll provide your federal income tax return and proof of current employment in the U.S.
Next, compile the required documentation, notarize the affidavit in the U.S. or before an immigration officer, and send everything to the applicant. Meanwhile, if the instructions state that you should file Form I-864 with the National Visa Center, you should do as directed.
After all the required documentation has been filed by the intending immigrant, it is important that they are reviewed. To get this done, you can seek the services of an experienced attorney from a reputable law firm. The goal of hiring such an attorney will be to review details of your financial sponsor, joint sponsors, and that of any household member who is listed as a sole sponsor or among the joint sponsors.
When reviewing the details of household members, attention should be paid to the federal income tax return of these household members. Other supporting documents of any household member who is not listed as part of the family members can be reviewed and perfected. You may be wondering what the Federal income tax returns of family members have to do with your application.
In a case where any of the family members is a substitute sponsor or a petitioning sponsor, the U.S. agencies always ensure they are properly scrutinized. As such, they tend to look beyond the information provided in their form I-864 affidavit of support but keep their review within the confines of the law as provided for in the poverty guidelines, Child Citizenship Act, and other laws that govern intending immigrant’s admission.
Worthy of mention is that the process for filing form I-864 is slightly different for those with active military status or a person whose legal guardian is in active duty. These people in the armed forces tend to enjoy means tested public benefits that may be different from the other immigration benefit enjoyed by a random person. However, they still have to show proof of recent federal tax return for employment based immigrant requiring such documentation.
Contact Richard Herman Today
Are you confused about what a form I-864 affidavit of support means or you don’t know the requirements needed to be a joint sponsor? Then, we are your best bet at Herman Legal Group. We have seasoned attorneys who have the requisite knowledge to help review and perfect the process for you. We can look into your income or her income requirement to be sure it is what the law wants.
With us, it starts with a consultation and you can schedule one by calling +1-800-808-4013 or +1-216-696-6170. Then, there is the option of scheduling a consultation with the best immigration lawyer in the United States – Richard Herman, you can do so by booking online.
If you’re filing an Affidavit of Support, hire the best attorney services from an experienced immigration attorney in a standard law firm. It helps to build a good attorney-client relationship before filling out blank immigration forms and paying the required legal fees.
An immigration lawyer can explain confusing terms like the “means-tested public benefits,” among others, to you. You can then fill out the Affidavit of Support form and file it appropriately, filling in the right information and avoiding costly mistakes.