Immigrant Affidavit of Support Form I-864
Most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrant cases are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationalty Act. An affidavit of support is required to assure the federal government that these intended immigrants have enough financial resources available to them and will not rely on welfare for support. Under Some intended immigrants must also complete a declaration of self-sufficiency for I-944 along with form I-864 when they apply for residence or adjust status. The forms are filed concurrently with form I-485, Application to register permanent residence or adjust status.
One of the most challenging issues in most family-based visa applications is the affidavit of support. Mistakes in completing the I-864 and insufficient financial evidence are common reasons for time-consuming requests for those who apply for permanent residence or adjust status. Some consulates such as Ciudad Juárez may even deny immigrant visas under Sections 221(g) or 212(a)(4) where the joint sponsor is not related to the intended immigrant or has not assisted in the past. In some adjustme nt of status interviews, the USCIS immigration officer may inquire into the relationship between the intended immigrant and the joint sponsor.
Under Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the government may exclude as public charges intended immigrant family members and certain employment-based applicants unless they submit an affidavit of support under Section 213A executed by a sponsor as a contract signed under penalty of perjury, showing that they are unlikely to rely on welfare for support. The immigration forms used to do this are USCIS Form I-864 or I-864EZ. The sponsor must also submit appropriate financial documents with the affidavit of support to verify his or her ability to support the immigrant financially. The immigrant must provide the proper form signed by his sponsor when adjusting status to permanent residency (with form I-485 USCIS application or with current filing I-130 and I-485 ) or when consular processing (forms DS-260) through the National Visa Center (NVC).
A completed and signed affidavit of support is a binding legal contract between the Federal government and the petitioner by which the sponsor agrees to maintain the immigrant at 125 percent of the poverty level, if it becomes necessary, while the agreement is in force.
Common issues with affidavit of support i-864
Some common reasons people have problems with affidavits of support in practice are:
- Including family members on the affidavit of support i-864 who are not derivatives beneficiaries of the principal immigrant – not using separate forms for visa applicants who are immediate relatives;
- No family relationship between the intended immigrant and the joint sponsor;
- Insufficient documentation of income;
- Sponsor makes inadequate income, or the i-864 sponsor is unemployed or retired;
- Sponsor failed to file income tax returns when he had a duty to do so;
- Sponsor has incorrect filing status (e.g., filed as head of household or single when married);
- Sponsor lacks assets to supplement income;
- Valuation of I-864 assets to supplement income (e.g., How much is my Jimmy Hendricks’ guitar worth?);
- Ignoring debt secured against assets;
- Self-employed income (my business makes $200,00 per year, but because of depreciation and write-offs I declare a loss on my income tax returns);
- Finding a willing and qualified joint sponsor, and
- Using an outdated edition of form I-864.
I-864 Filing Fee
You are not required to pay a fee when you file with USCIS for permanent resident adjustment or abroad with the Department of State (DOS). DOS does, however, charge a fee when this form is filed in the U.S.. For more information, please visit the Department of State website.
Income Requirement for an I-864 Sponsor
You also must meet certain income requirements (whether you are a sponsor, a joint sponsor, or a substitute sponsor). You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. Your household for affidavit of support purposes includes you, your dependents, any relatives living with you, any person you have sponsored before to get a permanent resident card and the immigrants you are sponsoring now.
If you, the sponsor, are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or child, your income only needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.
To see if you are above the poverty level, review “Form I-864P”.
i-864 assets to supplement income
The affidavits of support rules are flexible because they allow a sponsor to use significant assets to demonstrate the ability to maintain income. The assets must be “available in the United States for the applicant’s support and must be readily convertible to cash within one year.”
The assets you may use include deposits in a financial institution, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and real estate or personal property. The documentation required for assets include:
- Documentation of ownership and date of acquisition – Certificate of Title, Letter from a Financial Institution
- Proof of net cash value of the asset (if applicable, e.g., real estate) – appraised value minus debt secured by the asset. Remember it’s about your positive equity: it’s not just the value of your home but the amount of debt secured by the house.
- Proof of location, and
- One-year history (applicable to financial assets) – statements for 12- months.
How much asset do you need?
Find the annual income shortfall
Use USCIS form I-864P to find the minimum income for your household size. If you have three dependent children, your household size is 5 when you include the intended immigrant (you =1, children =3, intended immigrant =1). If you are non-military and you do not live in Alaska or Hawaii, in 2020 you must show income of at least $44,100 to sponsor one intended immigrant. Let us next assume that your reported annual income is $32,000 leaving a shortfall of $12, 100. We therefore need net assets to supplement $12, 100 in annual income.
How are you related to the intended immigrant?
If the person you are sponsoring is a spouse or a minor child, then you must show assets in excess of at least three times the shortfall. Otherwise you must show assets valued at five time the shortfall.
Apply the appropriate multiple to the shortfall amount
In our example above let us assume that your are sponsoring a wife or husband. In that case you need to show assets equal or greater than three times $12, 100 or $36, 300.
How to File an Affidavit of Support You, the sponsor, should download and complete the current Form I-864 when the National Visa Center instructs the the beneficiary of your petition to submit affidavit of support and immigrant visa forms after the requested fees have been paid. In addition your foreign relative may need an affidavit of support for his immigrant visa interview with a consular officer overseas or when he is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or with an Immigration Court in the United States.
If you cannot meet the minimum income requirements using your earned income, you have various options:
- You may add the net cash value of your assets (gross value – minus liabilities, if any). This includes money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds, other personal property and and real estate. To find the amount of assets required to qualify, subtract your household income from the minimum income requirement (125% of the poverty level for your family size). You must prove the cash value of your I-864 assets is worth five times this difference (the amount left over) or three times if the visa application is based upon a marriage petition.
- If the person being sponsored is a spouse, or son/daughter (who is 18 years or older) of a U.S. citizen: The least cash value of assets must be three times the difference between the sponsor’s household income and 125% of the federal poverty guideline for the household.
- If the person being sponsored is an orphan coming to the United States for adoption: The adoptive parents’ assets merely needs to equal or exceed the difference between the household income and 125% of the federal poverty line for the household size.
Besides using your assets, you may also count the income and assets of members of your household who are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption. To use their income you must have listed them as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months. You and the household member must also complete a Form I-864A, Contract between Sponsor and Household Member. If the relative you are sponsoring meets these criteria you may include the value of their income and assets, but the immigrant does not need to complete Form I-864A unless he or she has accompanying family members.
- You may count the assets of the relatives you are sponsoring.
Responsibilities as an I-864 Sponsor:
When you sign the affidavit of support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) generally until they become U.S. citizens or get credited with 40 quarters of work. Your obligation also ends if you or the person sponsored dies or if the person sponsored departs the United States and gives up his permanent resident status by executing form I-407 at a US consulate.
Note: Divorce does NOT end your legal obligation.
If the person you sponsored receives any “means-tested public benefits,” you may be held responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency can sue you in court to get the money owed. Any joint sponsors or household members whose income is used to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant. Be sure to read the Sponsor’s contract or statement on Form I-864 before signing.
If you have any questions about your liability as a sponsor please seek immigration legal advice from independent legal counsel. If you are an intended immigrant through marriage, you may have questions about whether the person you intended to marry is a qualified sponsor for affidavit of support purposes. Do not wait until after the marriage to find out. Get advice early. Goodin Law offers legal services to resolve affidavit of support and other immigration matters. Call us today.
Be informed – where to get further information and immigration legal advice
Be sure to read affidavit of support i 864 form instructions.
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