Most family-based and some employment-based preference immigrant visa or green card applications require submitting an affidavit of support form. However, there are a few exemption cases where a few green card applicants are exempt from fulfilling the Affidavit of Support requirement.

These sets of people don’t need to submit Form I-864, although they may still face public charge issues. The essence of the Affidavit of Support is simply to reassure the U.S. government that the alien won’t become a public charge.

A public charge is one that is dependent on the U.S. government for need-based government assistance, also called “welfare.” The Form I-864 represents the sponsor or petitioner’s promise to financially sponsor for as long as the immigrant needs it.

The sponsor needs to file the support form before the immigrant’s interview with the consular officer. All information related to exemption from I-864, Affidavit of Support, is clearly spelt out in the Immigration Nationality Act.

Are You Exempt from Submitting Form I-864?

You are exempt from filling out and submitting Form I-864 if you fall under the following categories:

  • You work in the U.S. for forty quarters, meaning you received the minimum income level established by the SSA (Social Security Administration);
  • You’re credited with quarters your spouse or parent worked when you were still below eighteen years of age. In this case, you can’t count any quarter you received when your spouse or parent was receiving means-tested public benefits.
  • You are an underage intending immigrant and will become a U.S. citizen immediately after you enter the U.S. according to the CCA (Child Citizen Act of 2000). In this case, at least one of the parents should be a U.S. citizen and the child should be under eighteen.
  • Also, the child should permanently reside in the country with the U.S. parent as the legal guardian. If the child is adopted, the adoption should be legally finalized before lawful admission into the U.S.
  • You are a self-petitioning widow(er) or abused/battered spouse or child of a U.S. citizen. In this case, you must have an approved petition with Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

What Crimes Disqualify You From Sponsoring An Immigrant?

Crime is usually the main thing that can debar a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident from sponsoring their immigrant family member.

The following can disqualify you from sponsoring an immigrant:

  • You’re involved in an offense involving kidnapping or false imprisonment,
  • You solicited to engage in prostitution, sexual conduct or used a minor in a sexual performance,
  • You’re found guilty of video voyeurism and possession, production, or distribution of child pornography,
  • You’re involved in or used the internet to attempt or facilitate criminal sexual conduct involving a minor,
  • You’re guilty of any conduct that is, by nature, a sex offence against a minor,

These crimes count even if you were convicted in your home country – except if you didn’t receive a fair trial. Every would-be U.S. petitioner guilty of these crimes or anything remotely similar should see an immigration attorney before petitioning.

Does Every Immigrant Need a Sponsor?

Any immigrant applying to file an immigrant visa petition or permanent resident status petition is required to have a financial sponsor. Usually, the U.S. citizen who files the visa petition is the sponsor, but they can also have co-sponsors.

Also, if you’re entering the U.S. to work for a relative or business where the relative has a significant ownership interest, you need a sponsor. Accepting financial responsibility means reassuring the U.S. government that you’re responsible for the upkeep of the immigrant.

What Types of Sponsors Can An Immigrant Have?

An immigrant visa applicant can have a major sponsor, joint sponsor, and (or) substitute sponsor, depending on the financial sponsor’s household size and its minimum annual income. The major sponsor is the U.S. citizen or green card holder who filed the immigrant visa petition on their family member’s behalf and is seen as the principal applicant who will accept legal responsibility at all times.

A joint sponsor is one who is willing to assist the primary sponsor and accept the legal responsibility of sponsoring the former’s family member. Meanwhile, the substitute sponsor is one who stands in place of a visa petitioner who died and must show his or her income to be accepted.

The primary and joint sponsors must live in the United States or a territory and meet the income requirements to be eligible. Someone who lives abroad can also be a sponsor, provided they can show that they only live abroad temporarily.

The difference between both is that a joint sponsor doesn’t have to be the principal applicant’s relative or family member. Also, the joint sponsor has to reach the minimum income requirements on their own; they cannot combine finances with the major sponsor when standing in for employment based preference immigrants.

Who Is a Substitute Sponsor?

A substitute sponsor is one who stands in place of a visa petitioner who died after the visa petition approval. Such a person can be a lone sponsor or one of many joint sponsors who may be household members or family members If a visa petitioner dies after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, approves their petition.

At its discretion, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can decide to let the petition continue based on the content of the intending immigrant’s affidavit, of which a substitute can step in. The substitute sponsor is required to file the approved Form I-864 on behalf of the deceased primary sponsor and state the cause of death in the intending immigrant’s affidavit.

To become an alternative sponsor, an individual must be related to the intending immigrant and must prove the same to the immigration officer during the intending immigrant’s admission process. They can be their spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, child of at least 18 years old, sibling, daughter, or son.

They can also be their daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or legal guardian of the beneficiary.

Furthermore, the replacing sponsor must be at least eighteen years old, a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. They must also meet all the financial requirements, be domiciled in the United States, and be ready to assume the obligations of a sponsor.

What Does “Income Deeming” Mean?

Sometimes, a sponsored immigrant is ineligible for certain government means-tested public benefits. That is usually because a government agency will consider the sponsor’s or their household member’s financial resources and assets to determine the immigrant’s eligibility. Income deeming refers to the process of determining an immigrant’s eligibility for the means-tested public benefits program.

What Happens If a Sponsor Fails to Provide Financial Support?

If a sponsor fails to fulfill their obligations and provide adequate financial support, the immigrant may receive means-tested public benefits. The sponsor of a beneficiary of this program will be required to repay or reimburse the agency that provided them.

If the sponsor doesn’t, the agency is under obligation to sue the sponsor in court to get their due. An immigrant can also sue; such can collect enough income up to 125% of the cash value listed in the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

If a sponsor runs into bankruptcy, it doesn’t necessarily mean a termination of their obligations. Most debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy, except domestic support obligations such as alimony, maintenance, and child or former spouse support.

Does Automatic Citizenship Exempt One from Submitting Affidavit of Support?

Family applicants set to become U.S. citizens automatically don’t need their sponsor to file an affidavit of support. Instead, the sponsor will file Form I-864W, and request for an exemption, a consequence of the Child Citizenship Act and the Social Security Act.

This immigration law and the Child Citizenship Act provides for expedited naturalization of foreign-born children who are below eighteen and meet certain other requirements that makes them a lawful permanent resident. Such relative or accompanying family members must meet the following requirements:

  • They must be unmarried children of the petitioning sponsor, and the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen,
  • They must be at no older than seventeen years of age when seeking lawful admission into the U.S. with the temporary Green Card stamp,
  • They intend to be in the legal and physical custody of the petitioning sponsor even after they’ve obtained their permanent resident card.

Parents, guardians, or any household member standing in for such a child must also meet the minimum income requirement based on the minimum cash value of his or her country and must submit the required form I-864 to the National Visa Center.

At the point of screening, any of these must submit their federal income tax return and it must be in compliance with the federal poverty guidelines. Every field in the form must be filled, including that of the national relative filed, sponsor’s tax return showing social security, and recent federal tax return.

The essence of doing this is to ascertain that the person taking in the children must have a the means to be a reliable financial sponsor for the intending immigrants

What Is the NVC’s Role in Filing Affidavit of Support Forms?

The National Visa Center is responsible for reviewing the Affidavit of Support forms to ensure they are accurately filled out. If the NVC discovers that a form isn’t complete, it will send a notification to the CEAC, explaining the issue. Then, it’ll inform the petitioner to make the necessary corrections and re-submit the form to the NVC.

After collecting the corrected Affidavit of Support form with supporting financial evidence, the NVC then sends the application to the appropriate quarters. “Appropriate quarters” means the U.S. embassy or consulate where the immigrant applicant will apply for the visa.

What Supporting Documents Do You Need to File with the Form I-864?

After filling out and completing the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, you will be required to submit certain documents.

The NVC will instruct you to provide photocopies of the following as supporting documents with your I-864:

  • U.S. citizens will submit their birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, and photo page of their U.S. passport.
  • Lawful permanent residents will be required to submit both sides of their permanent resident card and tax records. You can provide documentation of recent federal income tax returns by providing the photocopies or requesting for a tax transcript from the IRS.
  • Other supporting documents include a separate Form I-864A for each household member that’ll use the assets besides the intending immigrant.
  • Proof the intending immigrant’s current employment will remain with the same principal address if he or she is using their annual income.
  • A separate Form I-864 for anyone else’s income that you’re using to qualify as a sponsor.
  • Proof of active military status if the petitioning sponsor is on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard. This is particularly required if you’re sponsoring an intending immigrant using 100% of the Federal Poverty line.

Let Herman Legal Group Help You

Social security is something the United States takes seriously for anyone who wants to apply for a green card. Passing through the wall of social security can be challenging for many green card applicants, and that is why the applications of many intending green card holders tend to fail.

Instead of getting stuck up in the process of understanding what social security means and how it relates to who is exempt from filing form I-864 affidavit of support, schedule a consultation with Herman Legal Group today to help you out. You can do so now by calling +1-216-696-6170.

If you want to get past all the hurdles quickly, you can opt for the most experienced immigration attorney – Richard Herman and schedule a consultation with him by booking online.


To become a sponsor, you need to calculate your household income size; a sponsor’s household income must meet the requirements. If a sponsor’s income doesn’t meet the requirements, they can request support from immigrant-unrelated friends and relatives to meet up. The petitioning sponsor files the immigrant’s affidavit of support, and filing it right is important.

That’s why we recommend hiring the attorney services of a standard law firm. Plus, an experienced immigration lawyer helps you know when you are exempt from filing an Affidavit of Support.

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