Individuals who wish to come to the United States as an immigrant have a lot of paperwork to file before they officially do so. They may also need another person within the United States to file paperwork on their behalf. One potential document that might need to be filed is called an Affidavit of Support. This document basically asserts that the sponsor accepts full financial responsibility for the applicant who wishes to come to the United States. If you already know how to sponsor an immigrant, this blog will help with filing your Form I-864.
If you’re in need of a Phoenix immigration attorney to guide you through the complex processes of immigrating to the United States, the team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group is here for you. Our law firm has extensive experience handling all manner of immigration cases in the state of Arizona, and we can help you properly fill out and submit your Affidavit of Support. We can also help with countless other steps in the immigration process. Experience in these cases matters, so don’t settle for anything less than the best. To schedule your consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.
What Is I-864 Affidavit of Support?
The I-864 Affidavit of Support is a signed document that a sponsor signs in order to accept full financial responsibility for the sponsored immigrant. This intending immigrant is generally a family member who seeks a green card. The person who signs the document who pledges their financial support for the immigrant can also be called the financial sponsor. In most cases, the sponsor and the beneficiary are both family members.
Currently, the Form I-864 processing time averages anywhere from 11 to 20 months in total. Although this can vary depending on your specific situation, it is a good idea to expect a waiting period of at least a year. Processing times are basically how long one would need to wait before receiving their green card approval. The best way to ensure that your wait time is as short as possible is to work with a qualified immigration attorney from the very start. With our experience, we will make sure that you have everything you need to submit your application well before you actually submit it. This way, we can ensure that there will be as few delays in your case as possible, if any.
Remember that any mistakes you make or documents you forget could become costly. Even one incorrect application could delay your case by weeks, or even months.
Financial Requirements for I-864
Before someone can sponsor a family member, they must prove that they meet the minimum income requirement that is set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Below, we outline the financial resources that a sponsor must show before they can submit their affidavit of support.
- Financial sponsor must be at least 18 years old, living in the United States, and must be a green card holder or a United States citizen.
- Annual income of the financial support sponsor must have an annual income that is at least 125% of the federal poverty line. The higher the number of household members they have, the higher their annual income will need to be. In order to determine whether or not they meet these federal poverty guidelines, they must file a Form I-864P.
- If the financial sponsor’s income alone does not meet the financial support requirements, they can also use certain assets to meet the requirements. Examples of these assets include cash, stocks, bonds, and property.
- Other parties, such as another household member, can also help meet this income requirement. In this case, they would be considered a joint sponsor.
- Even the intending immigrant can contribute their income to meet the financial sponsor requirements. In order to do this successfully, they will need to show that the source of their income will remain once they have their green card.
What Are the Financial Obligations of an I-864 Financial Sponsor?
When the sponsor signs Form I-864 to accept financial responsibility for the intending immigrant, they basically enter into a contract with the United States government. Therefore, if the sponsored immigrant were to be deemed a public charge, the sponsor or joint sponsors can be held responsible. In this case, the United States could recover losses from certain public benefits, such as Social Security, from the sponsor or joint sponsors.
However, there are a few situations in which the primary sponsor can be released from their obligations to the intending immigrant. We list these situations below.
- When either spouse dies.
- The spouse seeking sponsorship gains United States citizenship.
- The spouse seeking a green card works for at least 40 quarters in the country.
- When the spouse seeking the green card permanently moves out of the United States.
If you have acted as a primary sponsor, joint sponsor, or substitute sponsor in the past, you will need to list each of these sponsorships when you file a new affidavit of support. If your financial obligations to any of the beneficiaries have ended, you no longer need to list them as a beneficiary.
Is I-864 Required for a Marriage Green Card?
For most family based green cards and for some employment based green cards, submitting a Form I-864 is required. Along with this form, they must submit proof of their income. Petitioners, sponsors, joint sponsors, and co-sponsors must submit this form. If you are unsure of whether or not you need to submit one of these forms to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, we recommend speaking with a qualified immigration attorney.
How Many Affidavits Are Required for a Marriage Green Card?
We usually recommend submitting anywhere from three to six affidavits of support for the couple in questions. Those submitting the affidavits should have different relationships with the couple, which gives more evidence that the marriage is real. The more affidavits you submit, the better your chances of showing USCIS that the relationship is real and valid.
Why Should I File an Affidavit of Support?
An affidavit of support is both required and enforceable by the United States government. When the green card applicant has either scheduled their immigrant visa interview, or if they are already in the United States waiting to submit Form I-485 Adjustment of Status. If the affidavit is for your spouse or fiance, you will need to submit it when they adjust their status after arriving in the United States.
Before attending the visa interview, it is crucial to prepare for the green card interview questions one may face. The best way to do this is to go through mock interviews with a trusted immigration attorney.
Who Can File an Affidavit of Support?
Before one can submit an affidavit of support as a sponsor or joint sponsor, they must determine whether or not they meet the requirements. We mentioned the basic requirements previously, but we’ll provide more information below.
The following requirements must be met in order for spouses, fiances, family members, or other individuals to qualify as financial sponsors for an intending immigrant. According to the National Visa Center, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a U.S. citizen or have lawful permanent resident status
- Have income that is 125% above federal poverty guidelines
- Have a United States domicile, meaning you consider the U.S. your permanent home, or you have a significant ownership interest here
For residents of certain states or members of the military, the financial requirements differ. We recommend speaking with your immigration attorney to find out whether or not you qualify to sponsor someone seeking a green card.
Can a Green Card Holder Submit an Affidavit of Support?
Yes. As long as the green card holder is at least 18 years old, lives in the United States, and meets the financial requirements, they can file an affidavit of support. If one person does not have the means to fully support the intending immigrant, they could have another person become a joint sponsor. This just means that more than one person pledges to meet the minimum income requirements to support the green card seeker.
How Do I File an Affidavit of Support?
We strongly recommend working with an experienced immigration lawyer while you fill out the affidavit of support form. These documents can be very difficult to complete on your own, and many people compare them to filling out their federal income tax return. The full form has 11 sections to fill out and complete before you submit it.
Be sure to use the most recent version of Form I-864 from the USCIS website. Any outdated forms will be rejected after you submit them. We also recommend filling out this form on your computer so that you can easily make changes before submitting it. Below, we briefly outline the steps you will need to take while filling out the form.
- Identify your relationship with the intending immigrant. Give your full legal name as the sponsor, then select the basis for filing the affidavit of support.
- Include information about the principal immigrant, such as their name.
- State which individuals you intend to sponsor. You can list one person or multiple people.
- More information about you as the sponsor, including your name and relevant addresses.
- Be sure to list each household member that you are responsible for, and do not count each person more than once.
- As the sponsor, include information about your employment and your income.
- An optional section includes information about using assets to supplement your income in order to meet the financial requirements.
- You will also sign the Form I-864, include your contact information, and date the form.
- If there was an interpreter, include their name, contact information, signature, and date.
- If someone other than the sponsor prepared the document, such as their attorney, they will need to list their name, contact information, sign the document, and date it.
- Include any additional information that is relevant to the form.
What Documents Do I Need to Submit with Form I-864?
You’ll need to include supporting documents with the affidavit. It’s important to know which supporting documents you’ll need ahead of time so that you have plenty of time to gather them. Below, we list some of the documents that you may need to include when you submit your Form I-864 affidavit of support. Keep in mind that you should never submit original documents, only copies.
- Schedule C, D, E, or F if you are currently self-employed
- Copies of an original affidavit of support if you are sponsoring more than one immigrant
- Proof of active armed forces or military status, if applicable
- Separate Form I-864A for each person whose income will supplement your own, as well as proof of their residency in your household
- If the intending immigrant’s income is being used to meet the financial requirements, proof that their income will continue
- Copy of the intending immigrant’s federal tax return, W2s, and 1099s
- Copies of birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization or citizenship, if applicable
Working with an attorney throughout the process can help you ensure that you include all necessary documents from the start.
How Much Money Is Needed for an Affidavit of Support?
This is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on multiple factors, such as your household size, the state you live in, and whether or not you are active in the military. In certain cases, rather than meeting 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, you only need to meet 100% of the federal poverty guidelines.
How Long Does an Affidavit of Support Last?
An affidavit of support does not technically expire. In fact, a sponsor’s financial responsibility for an immigrant does not end unless one of the following conditions is met.
- The immigrant works for at least 40 quarters in the United States under the Social Security Act.
- They become a United States citizen.
- Either the immigrant or the sponsor passes away.
What Are the Consequences of Falsifying an Affidavit of Support?
Serious consequences can arise if someone knowingly and willfully falsifies an affidavit of support. It is a very serious offense which will result in the denial of the Form I-864, potential denial of other immigration benefits, and potential criminal prosecution. Simple mistakes will not warrant such harsh penalties, but it is important that you only include factual information. Working with an attorney while you fill out these forms can help you avoid costly mistakes.
Contact a Phoenix Immigration Lawyer Today
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we understand that many immigration forms can be very confusing, especially if you’ve never handled any before. That’s why we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to helping members of our community with their immigrant visa petition, interviews, and other important forms. If you’re in need of an experienced Phoenix immigration lawyer, the attorneys at YMLG are here for you. To schedule an appointment with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.