Everything You Need to Know About Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
August 11, 2021
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Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
August 11, 2021
If you have immigrated to the United States as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), then the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires you to have an Affidavit of Support. On occasion, an Affidavit of Support is also needed by employment-based immigrants. Officially known as Form I-864, immigrants must use the affidavit to show they have financial support here in the United States.
It is important to note that if you are self-petitioning for immigration due to an assault or are a widower, you are not required to have a Form I-864.
Form I-864 is titled the Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The purpose of the form is to show that the recipient of the Affidavit of Support will not need to rely on government financial support. Form I-864 is a statement saying that the sponsoring family member (the U.S. citizen or LPR) will provide financial support to the person immigrating. Per the affidavit, if government assistance is required, the sponsor is also required to reimburse the agency that provided assistance.
The USCIS Affidavit of Support is a contract. As an LPR who is sponsored by a family member, you are not allowed to seek government-sponsored benefits, whether that be at the local, state, or federal level. There are some exceptions, including Medicaid and Child Nutrition Act services. However, if the sponsored LPR should fall under any financial hardship, the person sponsoring will be financially responsible.
The sponsor is the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is petitioning for their family member(s) to join them in the United States. We often see sponsors file Form I-864 paired with Form I-130 or Form I-140, to petition (1) for their relative or (2) for an employee to become a permanent resident, respectively. Relatives can include spouses, children, siblings, and/or parents.
By sponsoring your relative or employee, you are in a contract with the U.S. government, which makes you financially responsible for the person or people you are sponsoring. If you do not follow the rules of the Affidavit of Support sponsorship, then whatever agency that provided for the sponsored relative or employee is allowed to sue you for repayment. Your Affidavit of Support legal responsibilities encompass the financial support for the person or people you are sponsoring.
You will stop being financially responsible when the resident you sponsored has:
If you are sponsoring your spouse and you get divorced, you are still obligated to follow Form I-864 and you will remain their sponsor until one of the above options apply.
There are four forms that are categorized under Form I-864. The form you will use is dependent on your financial situation, how many people you are sponsoring, and the immigrant’s position and need for an Affidavit of Support. Below is a breakdown of the four forms categorized under I-864. In most cases, you will only need to fill out a single form, but it is possible that you need to fill out more. Because the process of filling out Form I-864 and committing to an Affidavit of Support is lengthy and complicated, working with an immigration lawyer can be extremely helpful.
Form I-864 is the full-length version of the Affidavit of Support. If you, the sponsor, are petitioning for your family member using Form I-130 or petitioning for an employee using Form I-140, then you will fill out Form I-864.
This is also the form you fill out for an I-864 joint sponsor. The joint sponsor must live in the United States and have an income equal to or greater than 125% of the poverty guidelines. The guidelines need to follow the I-864 joint sponsor household member amount and the number of immigrants being sponsored. The joint sponsor has the same responsibilities as the sponsor; they will provide financial support to assist the sponsor. Therefore, they will also sign an Affidavit of Support.
Form I-864A is a contract between a sponsor and a member of their household. Following the outline of the I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines, you will file Form I-864A if, based on your household size and income, your income is not at least 125% of poverty guidelines. This means that you must find an alternative source of the income requirement in order to sponsor your relative. Filing Form I-864A is one of the options for doing so.
Form I-864EZ is only available to those who have petitioned for a family member using Form I-130, meaning a Form I-140 petitioner may not fill our Form I-864EZ. You may only file this form if there is a single family member on your Form I-120 (one person maximum).
As the sponsor filing an I-184EZ, you need to submit proof that you are able to financially support your family member using either your salary or pension. There can only be one sponsor and one supported immigrant.
Form I-864W is for those who do not need to file for an official Affidavit of Support, yet are still applying for permanent residency. Form I-864W is an exception to Form I-864.
If you are petitioning for an immigrant who has 40 qualifying quarters of employment in the United States, then they do not need an Affidavit of Support. If you are unsure of how many qualifying quarters they have, then the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide help.
If the person immigrating to the U.S. is able to attain citizenship through the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 and can provide evidence they meet the requirements of Section 320 of the INA, then Form I-864W can be filed. The requirements under this act are for children under the age of 18 and include:
If you are a person self-petitioning for permanent residency, then you will also file an I-864W instead of an I-864. You usually need approval from USCIS through Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
As a sponsor, you are required to submit evidence along with Form I-864 to prove that you are able to provide financial support. These documents providing evidence of financial support cannot be original; unless otherwise noted, all supporting documents must be copies. You need to provide:
Depending on your status, there are other requirements for sponsoring either as a U.S. citizen or as a lawful permanent resident. These include:
A copy of your Form I-551 Residency Card (front and back)
You will also need to show proof of relationship between sponsor and household member. This is usually done when submitting Form I-864 with Form I-130. If the person you are sponsoring is not a dependent on your federal tax income, you need to show that the person does reside in your household and that you have a familial relationship with them.
There are many more requirements based on which I-864 form you must submit. Speak with your immigrant lawyer about your specific requirements.
The Affidavit of Support income requirements for 2021 can be found via the USCIS page for Form I-864P, 2021 HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support. The guidelines have been in effect since April 1, 2021. You can find the guidelines for all 50 states. There are three options to choose from:
All three options are different, so make sure you are looking at the correct location and poverty guidelines.
Note that there are other requirements for sponsors who are on active duty for the United States military and are petitioning on behalf of their spouse or child. Active duty military members have different HHS poverty guidelines. If you are an active service member, you will need to submit proof of your active military status along with Form I-864.
You mail your Form I-864 to the Chicago Lockbox. You must include a signature, your family name, and social security number (SSN). Do not place your SSN on the envelope.
There is no filing fee if Form I-864 is filed with USCIS or with the Department of State (DOS) abroad. If the form is filed in the United States, you may have to pay two fees with the DOS: the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee.
If you are a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen or are a spouse, child, or parent who has been abused by a U.S. citizen or LPR, contact the immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. We can help you navigate additional forms. Do not lose hope about attaining your permanent residency because of an unprecedented situation. There are options for you, and we can help.
As of January 1, 2017, you are allowed to send in photocopies of signed documents to the National Visa Center. You must still sign the actual paper document.
The process of filing for an Affidavit of Support has many steps, each with its own processing time. After you submit your Form I-864, it takes about one-two months of processing time before you are scheduled for an interview.
The immigration and naturalization attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. are here to help you with all of your immigration needs and questions. We have over 70 years of combined experience and understand the intensity and time it takes to complete the necessary steps to obtain legal residency in the United States. Located in downtown Chicago, we are easily accessible by public transportation for in-person meetings at our office.
We are here to answer any questions you may have about immigration, how to write an Affidavit of Support, how to fill out Form I-864, and even which form to complete. We are well prepared with the necessary knowledge and practice to help you with your immigration needs. Contact us at 312.444.1940 or fill out an online form today.View Similar Articles