What is Form I-864?
Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” is a form used in the United States immigration process to demonstrate that a sponsoring individual is financially capable of supporting an intending immigrant. The form is required as part of certain family-based and employment-based immigration applications to ensure that immigrants coming to the U.S. will not become a public charge and will have adequate financial support.
Key points about Form I-864:
Purpose of Form I-864: Form I-864 serves as an agreement by the sponsoring individual (the “sponsor”) to provide financial support to the intending immigrant (the “beneficiary”) to prevent the immigrant from relying on means-tested public benefits. It ensures that the immigrant will have access to sufficient financial resources without relying on government assistance.
When Form I-864 Is Required: Form I-864 is typically required in the following situations:
- Family-Based Green Cards: When a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is sponsoring a family member for a family-sponsored green card.
- Employment-Based Green Cards: In certain employment-based cases, when the intending immigrant will be eligible for certain government benefits soon after becoming a permanent resident.
- Diversity Visa Lottery Winners: Individuals who have won a diversity visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery program.
Responsibilities of the Sponsor: By signing Form I-864, the sponsor agrees to financially support the intending immigrant at 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines. The sponsor’s obligation continues until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked and paid into Social Security for a certain period, has ceased to be a permanent resident and left the U.S., or dies.
Financial Requirements: The sponsor’s income and assets are evaluated to determine if they meet the income requirements to support the intending immigrant. If the sponsor’s income is insufficient, they may need to provide additional evidence, such as joint sponsors or household members, to meet the requirements.
Filing Form I-864: Form I-864 is submitted by the sponsoring individual along with other immigration application forms, such as Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) or Form DS-260 (Online Immigrant Visa Application).
Consequences of Non-Compliance: Failure to provide adequate financial support as specified in Form I-864 can have legal consequences, and the sponsor could potentially be held financially responsible for certain means-tested public benefits received by the sponsored immigrant.
Immigration policies and procedures can change over time, so it’s recommended to refer to the official USCIS website or seek advice from an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding Form I-864 and its requirements.
Who needs to file Form I-864?
Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, is typically required when a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is sponsoring an intending immigrant for a family-based or employment-based green card. The purpose of the form is to ensure that the sponsored immigrant will have adequate financial support and will not become a public charge (relying on means-tested public benefits) upon entering the United States.
Here are the common scenarios where Form I-864 may need to be filed:
- Family-Based Green Cards:
- S. Citizens Sponsoring Immediate Relatives: U.S. citizens who are sponsoring their immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, for a family-based green card are generally required to submit Form I-864.
- Permanent Residents Sponsoring Certain Family Members: Permanent residents (green card holders) who are sponsoring certain family members, such as spouses and unmarried children, are also typically required to file Form I-864.
- Employment-Based Green Cards:
- Employment-Based Immigrants Subject to Public Charge Grounds: Certain employment-based immigrants who are subject to the public charge inadmissibility grounds may be required to have a sponsor file Form I-864 on their behalf.
- Diversity Visa Lottery Winners:
- Individuals who have won a diversity visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery program are required to have a sponsor file Form I-864 on their behalf.
It’s important to note that not all green card applicants require Form I-864. For example, self-petitioning beneficiaries of certain employment-based categories (such as EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-2 National Interest Waiver) do not need a Form I-864. Additionally, some special categories of immigrants, such as refugees and asylees, have different financial support requirements.
Before filing Form I-864, it’s recommended to review the specific eligibility and filing requirements for your immigration category. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website provides detailed information and instructions regarding when Form I-864 is required and how to complete it correctly.
If you have any doubts about whether you need to file Form I-864 or if you need assistance with the process, consulting with an immigration attorney can provide you with personalized guidance based on your situation.
Form I-864 minimum income requirements
The minimum income requirements for Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, depend on various factors, including the size of the household, the number of sponsored immigrants, and the federal poverty guidelines. The purpose of the minimum income requirement is to ensure that the sponsor has the financial means to support the intending immigrants without relying on means-tested public benefits.
Sponsors are generally required to have an income that is at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for their household size. The specific minimum income threshold can change annually and is based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ poverty guidelines.
It’s important to note that the poverty guidelines vary based on the number of people in the household, and sponsors must meet the income requirement for their specific household size. The income can come from various sources, including wages, salary, self-employment income, assets, and other forms of support.
The exact minimum income requirement can differ depending on factors such as the number of sponsored immigrants, the sponsor’s household size, and the location of the sponsor. Additionally, if the sponsor’s income is insufficient to meet the requirement, they may be able to use assets to supplement their income.
To determine the current minimum income requirement and poverty guidelines, you should refer to the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or consult with an immigration attorney. USCIS provides updated information and resources to help sponsors understand the income requirements and ensure compliance with the guidelines.
Form I-864 checklist of required documents
When preparing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, you’ll need to provide various documents to demonstrate your financial ability to sponsor the intending immigrants and meet the minimum income requirements. While the specific documents required can vary based on your individual circumstances, here’s a general checklist of documents you might need:
- Form I-864:
- Completed and signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency:
- Copy of your U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, or Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship (for U.S. citizens).
- Copy of your green card or Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) if you’re a permanent resident.
- Proof of Relationship:
- Marriage certificate (if sponsoring a spouse) or birth certificate (if sponsoring a child).
- Proof of Income:
- Copies of your federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040) for the most recent tax year.
- W-2 forms and 1099 forms showing your income from employers or clients.
- Recent pay stubs or employment verification letter.
- If self-employed, provide evidence of your self-employment income, such as profit and loss statements, business tax returns, and business bank statements.
- If using assets to supplement income, provide documentation of ownership and value of assets, such as bank statements, property appraisals, and retirement account statements.
- Proof of Current Employment:
- Employment verification letter from your employer, including details about your position, salary, and employment start date.
- Proof of Previous Employment (if applicable):
- Previous employment verification letters and pay stubs, especially if there were gaps in employment.
- Proof of Non-Taxable Income (if applicable):
- Documentation of any non-taxable income, such as Social Security benefits, child support, alimony, or disability benefits.
- Proof of Other Sources of Income (if applicable):
- Documentation of any additional sources of income, such as rental income, investments, pensions, or royalties.
- Proof of Assets (if applicable):
- Documentation of any assets you plan to use to supplement your income, such as bank statements, property deeds, and titles.
- Proof of Address:
- Copy of a recent utility bill, lease agreement, or mortgage statement showing your current address.
- Divorce or Death Certificates (if applicable):
- If you are sponsoring a spouse and have previously been married, provide divorce decrees or death certificates to prove the end of previous marriages.
Please note that this checklist is a general guide, and the documents you need might differ based on your specific situation and the intending immigrants you are sponsoring. Always refer to the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date information and consult with an immigration attorney if you have any doubts about the required documents for Form I-864.