An affidavit of support is a document that’s meant to lessen the possible economic burden on the government if an immigrant can’t support himself, potentially putting that financial burden on the person signing the affidavit. It’s a document where an individual, normally a relative, officially takes responsibility for the person and becomes a sponsor for someone coming to the U.S. to live permanently.
- This is not a form to be filled out casually. An affidavit of support is legally enforceable.
- The sponsor’s responsibility normally lasts until the immigrant either becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (which usually takes ten years).
A sponsor is also required for a family member coming to the U.S. to work for a relative or for a company in which the relative owns at least a 5% interest.
All family-based sponsors must submit the Form I-864 affidavit of support, regardless of the education, employment, or personal wealth of the sponsored individual. It should be completed by the immigrant. If a relative doesn’t meet the financial qualifications, the Form I-864 must still be filed, and the relative must still accept financial responsibility, but the immigrant must find another relative who meets the income requirements.
A joint sponsor can be someone willing to take on legal responsibility for supporting the person along with the sponsor and must meet the same requirements, with the exception of being related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor must reach the 125% income requirement alone. The sponsor and joint sponsor can’t combine incomes to meet the income requirement.
The form should be filed when the immigrant
- Is scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer abroad, or
- Is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident status with the USCIS or with an Immigration Court in the U.S.
A sponsor must meet certain income requirements.
- He or she must establish their household income is equal to or more than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for the household size (which would be the sponsor, dependents, any relatives living with him or her and the immigrant being sponsored).
- If the sponsor is on active duty with the military and the immigrant being sponsored is the service member’s spouse or child, the income level needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for the household size.
A sponsor is required to provide a copy of the U.S. federal income tax return for the most recent tax year in addition to proof of employment. After the affidavit of support is filled out, the required documents have been gathered and the affidavit notarized in the U.S. or before a U.S. consular or immigration officer, the sponsor should send this material to the relative to submit with his or her application for permanent resident status.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]