Affidavit of Support Made Easy: Your Step-by-Step Form I-864 Checklist

What is an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)?

An Affidavit of Support, designated as Form I-864, is a legally binding contract in the context of U.S. immigration. It’s a critical document required for certain family-based and employment-based immigrant visa applications, as well as some adjustment of status applications. The purpose of the Affidavit of Support is to establish that the intending immigrant will have adequate financial support and will not become a public charge, meaning they will not rely on government assistance for their basic needs.

Key points to understand about the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864):

  • Financial Responsibility: The individual who signs the Affidavit of Support becomes a “sponsor” and agrees to provide financial support to the intending immigrant. This responsibility extends until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, earns 40 qualifying quarters of work (usually about 10 years), leaves the U.S. permanently, or dies.
  • Sponsor Eligibility: The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who is at least 18 years old and domiciled in the United States.
  • Minimum Income Requirement: Sponsors are required to demonstrate that their income meets a certain threshold, which is usually 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines for their household size. This ensures that the sponsor has sufficient financial capacity to support the intending immigrant.
  • Household Size: The sponsor’s household size includes the sponsor, the sponsor’s dependents, and the intending immigrant who is being sponsored. The combined household size helps determine the income requirement.
  • Documentation: The sponsor must provide documentation of their income, which typically includes recent tax returns (IRS Form 1040), W-2 forms, pay stubs, and employment verification letters. If the sponsor’s income falls short, alternative sources of income and assets can be considered.
  • Joint Sponsors: If the sponsor does not meet the income requirement, a joint sponsor can be used. A joint sponsor is another individual (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) who meets the income criteria and agrees to assume financial responsibility for the intending immigrant.
  • Form I-864A (Household Member’s Affidavit of Support): If other members of the sponsor’s household are willing to help meet the income requirement, they can sign Form I-864A to include their income as part of the sponsor’s financial support.
  • Consequences of Non-Compliance: The Affidavit of Support is legally binding, and sponsors can be held financially responsible if the sponsored immigrant receives certain means-tested public benefits. This requirement is intended to ensure that the sponsored immigrant has access to financial support without relying on government assistance.
  • Submission: The Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is typically submitted along with the immigration application to the appropriate U.S. government agency. It’s a key component of the application package.

It’s important to approach the Affidavit of Support with careful consideration and understanding, as signing it entails a significant legal obligation. If you are sponsoring an intending immigrant, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you meet the requirements and fully comprehend the responsibilities involved.

Form I-864 checklist of required documents

Preparing a comprehensive set of required documents for Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, is crucial to ensure that your immigration application is complete and accurate. Here’s Form I-864 checklist of the common documents you’ll need to include:

  • Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support): Complete and sign the Form I-864. Ensure that all information is accurate and matches the details provided in your immigration application.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency (Sponsor):
    • S. citizens: Copy of U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship.
    • Lawful permanent residents (green card holders): Copy of green card (front and back).
  • Proof of Domicile (Sponsor):
    • Documents showing that you are domiciled in the U.S., such as mortgage or lease agreements, utility bills, or driver’s license.
  • Proof of Income (Sponsor):
    • Copies of your most recent federal tax returns (IRS Form 1040) for the past three years, including all schedules and W-2 forms.
    • If self-employed, include business tax returns (Schedule C).
    • If retired, provide evidence of retirement income (pension statements, Social Security benefits).
    • If employed, recent pay stubs and employment verification letter on company letterhead.
  • IRS Transcripts (Optional but Recommended):
    • IRS transcripts can serve as official proof of your tax returns. You can obtain them from the IRS website.
  • Proof of Assets (Sponsor):
    • Documentation of assets such as bank statements, real estate deeds, investment account statements, and ownership of significant assets.
  • G-1450 Authorization for Credit Card Transactions (Optional):
    • If you want to pay the Affidavit of Support processing fee by credit card, use Form G-1450.
  • Supporting Financial Documentation (Sponsor):
    • Explanation of any discrepancies or gaps in income or employment.
    • If using assets, documentation showing ownership and value.
  • Form I-864A (Household Member’s Affidavit of Support) (If Applicable):
    • If other household members are contributing to meet the income requirement, complete Form I-864A for each contributing household member.
  • Dependent Documentation (If Applicable):
    • If you are claiming dependents, provide proof of their relationship and legal status.
  • Translation (If Applicable):
    • If any documents are not in English, include certified translations.
  • Check or Money Order:
    • If you are submitting your application by mail, include the required filing fee for the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864).
  • Checklist:
    • Include a checklist indicating that you’ve included all required documents with your Form I-864.
  • Copy for Your Records:
    • Make copies of all the documents you submit for your own records.

Remember that immigration requirements can change, so it’s always a good idea to refer to the most current version of the Form I-864 instructions and USCIS website for the latest information. If you have any questions or concerns about the documentation required, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney.

How to fill out Form I-864?

Filling out Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, accurately and completely is crucial for your immigration application. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to fill out Form I-864:

Note: This guide provides a general overview. Always refer to the official Form I-864 instructions and USCIS guidelines for the most up-to-date information.

  • Download the Form: Download the latest version of Form I-864 from the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
  • Read the Instructions: Carefully read the Form I-864 instructions provided by USCIS. The instructions provide detailed guidance on how to complete each section of the form.
  • Choose the Correct Edition: Ensure you are using the correct edition of the form that matches your application.
  • Fill Out the Form: Complete the form in black ink or using a typewriter. Use block letters and write clearly.
  • Part 1 – Sponsor’s Information: Provide your personal information, including name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number (if applicable), and contact information.
  • Part 2 – Principal Immigrant’s Information: Provide the intending immigrant’s personal information, including name, relationship to you, and alien registration number (if applicable).
  • Part 3 – Household Size: Indicate the number of people in your household who are dependent on your income, including yourself, your spouse, children, and other dependents listed on your most recent federal tax return.
  • Part 4 – Income: Provide details about your income, including your total income, tax-exempt income, and any additional income from other sources.
  • Part 5 – Sponsor’s Employment and Assets: If you’re employed, provide your employer’s name, address, and other requested information. If you’re using assets to meet the income requirement, provide details about those assets.
  • Part 6 – Sponsor’s Contract: Review and sign the sponsor’s contract. By signing, you agree to provide financial support to the intending immigrant and repay certain benefits if received.
  • Part 7 – Sponsor’s Additional Information: Answer the questions about whether you’ve previously sponsored immigrants and whether you’ve filed an immigrant visa petition in the past.
  • Part 8 – Interpreter’s Contact Information (If Applicable): If someone helped you complete the form, provide their contact information in this section.
  • Part 9 – Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application: If someone helped you fill out the form, they should complete this section.
  • Part 10 – Information About the Person(s) Being Sued (If Applicable): Complete this section only if you are suing or have sued someone named in the affidavit of support.
  • Part 11 – Additional Information: Use this space to provide any additional information you want USCIS to consider.
  • Checklist: Review the checklist provided in the instructions to ensure that you have included all required supporting documentation and fees.
  • Filing Fee: If required, pay the filing fee for Form I-864. Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information.
  • Submit the Form: Mail the completed Form I-864, along with the required documentation and filing fee (if applicable), to the address provided in the instructions.

Ensure accuracy and completeness when filling out Form I-864. Double-check all entries, sign where required, and provide accurate supporting documentation. If you have questions or concerns, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney or a qualified professional.

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