Form I-8642024-01-10T09:41:08+00:00

USCIS Form I-864 – Affidavit of Support

Imagine the excitement of embarking on a new life journey in the United States. You’ve been dreaming about this moment for years, and now it’s finally becoming a reality. But, as you prepare to navigate the complex process of obtaining a green card, you encounter a critical document – the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. This form is more than just another piece of paperwork; it’s a significant step in securing your future in the U.S. So, let’s take this journey together and delve into the intricacies of the Form I-864.

The Form I-864, also known as the Affidavit of Support, is a crucial component of the immigration process for both family-based and some employment-based green card applicants. This form ensures that the sponsor meets federal poverty guidelines, thus providing adequate financial support for the intending immigrant. In essence, it’s a promise to the U.S. government that the immigrant will not become a public charge.

Key Takeaways

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is a legal commitment by a sponsor to financially support an immigrant, ensuring they do not rely on public assistance, with certain exceptions like asylees and refugees.
  • To qualify as a sponsor on Form I-864, individuals must be U.S. citizens or residents, meet age and domicile criteria, and have an income at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size.
  • Filing Form I-864 includes providing proof of the sponsor’s financial status and accurately completing and signing the form. A joint sponsor may be required if the primary sponsor fails to meet income requirements.

Understanding the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support

The Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, serves as a legal instrument to establish that an immigrant seeking a green card has enough financial backing and will not rely on public assistance. This commitment is made by a sponsor who accepts financial responsibility for the family member pursuing a green card. Most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants are obligated to meet this requirement, as it addresses the public charge grounds for inadmissibility. Citizenship and Immigration Services play a crucial role in processing these support forms.

However, some categories of non-citizens are exempt from this public charge test, including those covered by the Child Citizenship Act. These include:

  • Asylees
  • Refugees
  • Special immigrant juveniles
  • Afghan and Iraqi interpreters
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners

When a sponsor signs Form I-864, they commit to providing financial support to the sponsored immigrant until certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions include the immigrant obtaining U.S. citizenship or working for 40 qualifying quarters in the U.S. This obligation does not terminate with divorce. Therefore, understanding the responsibilities attached to this commitment is paramount.

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.

Completing the Form I-864 Step by Step

Having grasped the eligibility criteria for sponsors, we can proceed to fill out Form I-864. This process involves gathering supporting documents, making sure you’ve filled in the correct information, and signing the form. In addition, it’s essential to understand the role of support forms in this process.

Complete and accurate completion of this form is necessary to avoid potential delays or rejections in the immigration process for the intending immigrant.

Gathering Supporting Documents

The documents you submit alongside Form I-864 establish your U.S. citizenship or legal status and demonstrate your income and assets. For U.S. citizenship or legal status, you can submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Certificate of naturalization or citizenship for U.S. citizens
  • Evidence of green card holder status for U.S. nationals.

For financial documents, you need to submit a duplicate of your personal Federal income tax return, along with W-2s for the latest tax year, and also any statements or proof of income and assets. If you don’t have a copy of your tax return transcript, you can request one from the IRS by submitting Form 4506-T.

Signing and Dating the Form

Accuracy and completeness are crucial when it comes to signing and dating Form I-864. Detailed instructions for this can be accessed through video tutorials. One should avoid common errors such as:

  • using projected income instead of the income documented on the prior year’s tax return
  • forgetting to sign the form using black ink
  • failing to provide photocopies of the completed form

The signing date of your affidavit is significant as it confirms the form’s originality and validates the U.S. citizen’s financial sponsorship from that date.

The Role of Joint Sponsors

In some cases, a primary sponsor might not be able to meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines for income. This is where a joint sponsor becomes relevant. Just like the primary sponsor, a joint sponsor must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or a lawful permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be domiciled in the United States
  • Meet the income criteria

Requirements for Joint Sponsors

The joint sponsor has similar requirements to the primary sponsor. They must:

  • Maintain a minimum annual income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be domiciled in the United States

Being a joint sponsor is a significant commitment. Upon the immigrant being granted residency, the joint sponsor’s commitment becomes irrevocable, and they are obligated to remain financially responsible for the green card holder until certain conditions are met, usually until the immigrant obtains U.S. citizenship or accrues 40 quarters of work.

Submitting the Affidavit of Support to USCIS or NVC

After completing Form I-864, you can proceed to submit it. While the form cannot be e-filed, the process for submitting it differs depending on whether the applicant is applying for adjustment of status or going through consular processing.

Adjustment of Status Applicants

If you’re an adjustment of status applicant, you’ll need to send the Affidavit of Support package, which includes the completed Form I-864 and all accompanying documents, to the intending immigrant. The intending immigrant will then incorporate this package with their adjustment of status application (Form I-485) and adhere to the filing guidelines of Form I-485.

When mailing your Form I-864, make sure to:

  • Send it to the USCIS address specified in the instructions for Form I-485
  • Avoid common submission mistakes such as using anticipated future income instead of last year’s tax-reported income
  • Ensure that all necessary forms and translations are included
  • Sign the form where required
  • Provide the correct government fees.

Consular Processing Applicants

If you’re going through consular processing, you have the option to electronically submit the Form I-864 and all accompanying documents to the National Visa Center (NVC). Unlike for adjustment of status applicants, there is no requirement for an ‘original’ or ‘wet ink’ signature when submitting Form I-864 for consular processing.

The NVC aids in preparing the visa application for an interview at U.S. Embassies & Consulates following the approval of the petition. The required documents for the consular processing of Form I-864 may encompass a copy of the applicant’s birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization or citizenship.

Special Situations and Exceptions

While most family-based and some employment-based immigrants must meet the Form I-864 requirement, certain exceptions do exist. For instance, an intending immigrant who has accrued 40 qualifying quarters of work prior to obtaining permanent residence is eligible for an exemption from filing Form I-864 and should instead submit Form I-864W.

Also, in some cases, a joint sponsor may not be necessary when the income of other household members can be utilized to meet the requirements for a Form I-864. Specific applicants may qualify for exemption from the standard Affidavit of Support requirement and may utilize Form I-864W to demonstrate their exemption from submitting supporting documents.

Renewal and Withdrawal of Support Commitment

As a sponsor, you may question if there are circumstances that allow you to withdraw your responsibility, or if conditions exist for the renewal of Form I-864. Indeed, a written request for withdrawal can be submitted before the I-130 petition is approved, allowing retraction of the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support prior to the immigrant’s status being granted. However, once a Green Card has been issued, the withdrawal is no longer feasible.

If the petition is approved and the sponsor withdraws their I-864 support, the consequences vary for the immigrant depending on the timing and the communication with the NVC and/or U.S. consulate. To renew a Form I-864, the sponsor may be required to present evidence demonstrating continued compliance with the support criteria. Due to the conditions of the sponsor’s responsibility, a formal renewal of the form is usually unnecessary.

Financial Sponsorship for Family-Based Immigrants

The financial sponsorship for family-based immigrants requires the sponsor to:

  • Provide financial support
  • Sign an affidavit of support
  • Assume financial responsibility for the immigrant until they fulfill specific requirements, such as accumulating forty work quarters credited toward Social Security.

The required forms for financial sponsorship of family-based immigrants are Form I-864, Form I-134, and Form I-864A. To qualify as a sponsor, one needs to demonstrate that they possess an income that is at minimum 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines corresponding to their household size.

The financial responsibility of a sponsor for family-based immigrants typically extends until the family member becomes a U.S. citizen or accrues credit for 40 quarters (approximately 10 years) of work history in the U.S..

Understanding the Legal Implications of the Affidavit of Support

Beyond fulfilling requirements and getting the form accepted, understanding the legal implications of signing Form I-864 holds equal importance. The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support constitutes a legally binding agreement that obligates the signing individual to:

  • Provide support at 125% of the poverty line
  • Be financially responsible for the sponsored immigrant
  • Repay any means-tested public benefits received by the sponsored immigrant

It is crucial to fully comprehend these obligations before signing the form to accept financial responsibility.

Upon signing the Affidavit of Support, the sponsor is entering into a legal agreement to provide financial assistance for the immigrant beneficiary. The Affidavit of Support can be legally enforced by the sponsored immigrant or a third party, and the sponsor’s responsibility typically extends until the beneficiary:

  • becomes a U.S. citizen
  • earns 40 quarters of work
  • dies
  • permanently leaves the country.

Providing inaccurate information or submitting fraudulent documents on Form I-864 can lead to denial of the affidavit and potential legal consequences.

Tips for Ensuring Your Form I-864 is Accepted

Having covered the basics of Form I-864, here are a few pointers to facilitate acceptance of the form and a smooth process. To guarantee the accuracy of your Form I-864, it is essential to diligently complete all sections of the form with precision, paying particular attention to the mandatory fields. For a comprehensive review, it is advisable to consult the tip sheet offered by USCIS, which provides detailed guidance and aids in confirming the form’s precision.

Common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Recording the sponsor’s tax-reported income from the previous year rather than their expected income for the current year
  • Neglecting to input the expected income and instead relying on the sponsor’s previous year’s tax payment amount
  • Forgetting to sign the form

This might seem obvious, but it’s a common oversight that can lead to the rejection of the form by USCIS.


In this guide, we’ve explored the intricacies of Form I-864, its purpose, who needs it, who can be a sponsor, how to calculate household size, assess income adequacy, and complete the form step-by-step. We also delved into the role of joint sponsors, how to submit the form, special situations and exceptions, and how to withdraw or renew support commitment.

Remember, signing the Affidavit of Support is a significant commitment with legal implications that extend until the immigrant fulfills the specified conditions. So, whether you’re the sponsor or the intending immigrant, understanding Form I-864 is a critical part of the immigration process. With careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the requirements and processes, you can navigate this step with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an I-864 form?2024-01-08T08:00:35+00:00

The I-864 form, also known as the Affidavit of Support, is a crucial requirement for anyone seeking a green card in the United States. It is a legal contract that requires a citizen or lawful permanent resident to sponsor an intending immigrant.

How much is the fee for Form I-864?2024-01-08T07:59:58+00:00

The filing fee for Form I-864 varies based on the accompanying application. If filed with other applications, the processing fees for those applications may apply. If filed alone for Consular Processing, a fee of $120 is incurred.

How much money do I need to make to sponsor an immigrant 2023?2024-01-08T07:59:53+00:00

You need to make at least $24,650 annually to sponsor one immigrant without any family members, assuming you are not on active duty in the military.

Who can act as a sponsor for Form I-864?2024-01-08T07:59:36+00:00

Only U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent residents who are at least 18 years old and domiciled in the United States can act as sponsors for Form I-864.

How is household size calculated for Form I-864?2024-01-01T11:37:50+00:00

Household size for Form I-864 includes the sponsor, their dependents, residing relatives or family members, and the immigrants being sponsored. This calculation is essential for fulfilling the requirements of the form.

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