Common Mistakes To Avoid When Creating An Affidavit Of Support Checklist

What is an Affidavit of Support

An Affidavit of Support is a legal document that someone in the United States can use to sponsor an immigrant, typically a family member, who is seeking to come to the U.S. as a permanent resident (green card holder). The Affidavit of Support serves as a commitment by the sponsor to financially support the immigrant and ensure they do not become a public burden while residing in the United States.

The Affidavit of Support is required in situations where the intending immigrant might not have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their dependents. This is done to ensure that immigrants entering the country have a sufficient means of financial support and won’t rely on government assistance programs.

The sponsor, who is usually a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, must demonstrate that their income meets the necessary requirements to support the intending immigrant and their household at a level above the minimum federal poverty guidelines. The sponsor’s income and financial information are documented in the affidavit. In some cases, joint sponsors or co-sponsors can also provide additional support to meet the financial requirements if the primary sponsor’s income is insufficient.

Signing an Affidavit of Support is a legally binding commitment. The sponsor’s responsibility generally continues until the immigrant either becomes a U.S. citizen, accrues a certain number of work quarters, departs the U.S. permanently, or dies. If the sponsored immigrant receives means-tested public benefits, the sponsor might be legally obligated to reimburse the government for those benefits.

The Affidavit of Support is an essential part of the U.S. immigration process, especially in family-based immigration cases. It helps ensure that immigrants have a reliable financial support system upon their arrival in the United States.

Who needs to file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, needs to be filed by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who are sponsoring certain family members for immigration to the United States. The purpose of this form is to demonstrate that the sponsor has the financial means to support the intending immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public burden. Here are the common situations where Form I-864 might need to be filed:

  • Family-based immigrant visas: When a U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitions for a family member to immigrate to the United States, they often need to file Form I-864. This includes immediate relatives such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21.
  • Employment-based immigrant visas: In some employment-based immigration cases, if the intending immigrant is a family member of the primary beneficiary (the principal worker), the sponsor might need to file Form I-864 to support their family member’s immigration application.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery winners: Individuals selected in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program, also known as the Green Card Lottery, are required to have a sponsor file Form I-864 to ensure they have financial support upon entering the United States.
  • Certain special immigrant categories: Individuals applying for certain special immigrant categories, such as widows/widowers of U.S. citizens, self-petitioning battered spouses or children, and certain religious workers, might require a Form I-864 from a sponsor.

It’s important to note that not all family-based or employment-based immigrants require a Form I-864. For example, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21) usually do, but other family preference categories might require different forms of financial support documentation.

Additionally, the income requirements and guidelines for filing Form I-864 can vary depending on factors such as the sponsor’s household size, location, and whether they are the sole sponsor or have a joint sponsor.

If you are considering sponsoring a family member for immigration to the United States, it’s recommended to consult the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or seek legal advice to ensure you understand the specific requirements and obligations related to the Affidavit of Support.

What documents must be submitted with Affidavit of Support?

When filing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you need to provide supporting documents that demonstrate your financial ability to sponsor the intending immigrant. These documents are used to verify your income and financial stability. Here’s a general list of documents that are commonly required to be submitted along with the Affidavit of Support:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency: As the sponsor, you need to provide evidence of your own U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. This could include a copy of your U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or green card.
  • Form I-864: The completed and signed Affidavit of Support form itself, with accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Tax Documents: The most recent federal tax return you filed, along with any applicable schedules and W-2 forms. If you were not required to file taxes due to low income, you might need to provide an explanation and alternative documentation.
  • Proof of Current Income: You’ll typically need to provide evidence of your current income. This can include recent pay stubs, employment verification letters, or other documentation that shows your regular income.
  • Employment Letter: A letter from your employer confirming your job, position, salary, and the length of your employment. This letter should be on company letterhead and signed by an authorized representative.
  • Proof of Assets: If your income alone doesn’t meet the required threshold, you might need to provide documentation of assets such as bank statements, property ownership, or investment portfolios.
  • Proof of Dependents: If you’re including dependents in your household size, you might need to provide evidence of their relationship to you, such as birth certificates or marriage certificates.
  • Joint Sponsor’s Documents (if applicable): If you’re using a joint sponsor to meet the income requirements, they will need to provide similar documents to demonstrate their financial capacity.
  • Translations: If any of the supporting documents are not in English, you need to provide certified translations.

It’s important to note that the specific documents required can vary depending on your unique circumstances, the type of immigration application, and any recent changes in regulations. The USCIS website and official form instructions will provide the most accurate and up-to-date information on the documents you need to include with your Affidavit of Support.

Submitting complete and accurate supporting documents is crucial for a smooth immigration application process. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the Affidavit of Support or the required documents, it’s recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or an authorized immigration consultant to ensure you’re meeting all the necessary requirements.

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