Eligibility Criteria for Sponsors
Understanding both the purpose of Form I-864 and the qualifications for sponsors is critical. Sponsors on Form I-864 must:
- Be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents
- Be at least 18 years old and domiciled in the United States
- Meet specific eligibility criteria, such as determining household size and assessing income adequacy.
Determining Household Size
The first step in determining eligibility is calculating the household size. This includes:
- the sponsor
- the sponsor’s dependents
- any residing relatives or family members
- the immigrants being sponsored
Distinguishing between household size, referring to individuals living in and supported by the sponsor’s residence, and family unit, including the sponsor, spouse, children, stepchildren, and any tax return dependents, is important. One should also consider the role of each household member in this context.
When considering dependents, it’s not just about who lives with the sponsor. Dependents can also include the spouse or other relatives living with the sponsor and dependent on them for financial support, or those listed as dependents on the sponsor’s most recent federal tax return. On the other hand, non-dependents such as renters or boarders are not factored into the household size calculation.
Assessing Income Adequacy
The second eligibility criterion is income adequacy. Sponsors must demonstrate that their income is sufficient to support the intending immigrant. The minimum income requirement varies based on specific circumstances. For most cases, sponsors must have a minimum annual income of $24,650. However, sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child have a lower minimum income requirement of $22,680.
The income adequacy for an I-864 sponsor is determined by USCIS based on the sponsor’s current annual income. The sponsor must demonstrate the means to maintain an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of the federal poverty income line. The poverty guideline is utilized in evaluating income sufficiency for Form I-864 by ascertaining if the sponsor’s income satisfies the minimum income criterion, typically set at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.