Who Needs to Fill Form I-864A: Eligibility and Requirements Explained

Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, is a legally binding document used in the immigration process for those intending to become permanent residents of the United States. It is an adjunct form to the I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, which a sponsor files on behalf of an immigrant. The form I-864A is specifically designed for household members who agree to accept legal responsibility for supporting the immigrant, along with the primary sponsor. The use of Form I-864A allows the combined resources of the sponsor and the household member to be counted towards the financial requirements needed to support the immigrant.

Eligible household members who can commit to this contract include those who are at least 18 years old, live in the same residence as the sponsor, and whose income and assets can be used to support the sponsored immigrant. This typically includes the intending immigrant, other relatives residing with the sponsor, or anyone claimed as a dependent on the sponsor’s tax return. The necessity to fill out Form I-864A arises when a sponsor does not meet the income requirements alone and needs a household member’s financial strength to meet the necessary threshold as defined by the Poverty Guidelines.

By signing Form I-864A, household members not only agree to make their financial resources available to the sponsored immigrant, but they also oblige themselves to reimburse any governmental agency or private entity that provides means-tested public benefits to the immigrant, in the event that repayment is demanded. This contractual agreement underscores the serious commitment both the sponsor and the household member make to ensure the financial stability of the immigrant seeking permanent residence in the United States.

Eligibility Requirements

Understanding who needs to fill out Form I-864A is crucial for proper completion and submission. The form is a binding agreement between a sponsor on an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and a household member who agrees to financially support the intending immigrant.

Principal Immigrant vs. Household Member

Principal Immigrant: The individual seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Household Member: An individual living with the sponsor who contributes income to the household. This person can be:

  • The intending immigrant themselves, if they are earning income and living with the sponsor.
  • A relative living with the sponsor.
  • Anyone claimed as a dependent on the sponsor’s latest Federal income tax return.

Income Threshold Requirements

In order to qualify to submit Form I-864A, the household member and the sponsor together must meet the 125% of the Poverty Guidelines for their household size, including the sponsored immigrant(s), unless the sponsor is on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and the immigrant is the sponsor’s spouse or child, in which case the requirement is 100%. Income can come from various sources, such as:

  • Employment
  • Retirement
  • Alimony
  • Child Support
  • Dividends or interest

Domicile Requirements

The sponsor and household member must have a domicile, or principal residence, in the United States where they plan to live indefinitely. Sponsors living abroad temporarily can also meet this requirement if they can show proof they have maintained their domicile in the U.S. and will return before or upon the immigrant’s admission to the United States. Evidence to demonstrate this may include:

  • U.S. bank accounts, credit cards, and transfers.
  • Properties or rental agreements in the U.S.
  • U.S. state driver’s license or identification card.

Obligations of Form I-864A Signatories

Form I-864A is a legally binding contract between a sponsor and a household member, outlining their commitment to financially support an intending immigrant. It defines specific roles and responsibilities which are pivotal for the support of the sponsored person.

Responsibilities of the Sponsor

The sponsor is required to:

  • Ensure that the sponsored immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to rely on certain U.S. government welfare programs, thus preventing them from becoming a public charge.
  • Complete and sign Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) along with the Form I-864A to accept financial responsibility for the immigrant.

The sponsor also must provide evidence of their income and assets to meet or exceed 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Responsibilities of the Household Member

The household member must:

  • Jointly provide financial support for the sponsored immigrant alongside the sponsor by making their income and/or assets available.
  • Complete, sign, and submit Form I-864A agreeing to use their financial resources for the support of the intended immigrant if necessary.

To bind themselves to this commitment, the household member signs the form, effectively agreeing to reimburse any agency that provides government assistance to the sponsored immigrant.

Completing Form I-864A

When completing Form I-864A, it is crucial for individuals to provide thorough documentation and ensure that all information is accurate and truthful. The form is used by sponsors and certain household members to establish a combined financial commitment to support an immigrant.

Documentation Needed

The individuals involved in the Form I-864A process must provide several key documents:

  • Proof of the Sponsor’s U.S. Citizenship or Legal Permanent Resident status: A copy of a U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or green card.
  • Proof of the Household Member’s relationship to the Sponsor: Legal documents such as birth certificates or marriage certificates, as applicable.
  • Federal Income Tax Return: The most recent return, including all supporting tax schedules.
  • Evidence of Income: Such as W-2s, pay stubs, or an employment letter.
  • Proof of Assets: If necessary, to meet the income requirements, documentation of assets should be comprehensive.

Accuracy and Truthfulness

Every piece of information on Form I-864A must be:

  • True: The household member and sponsor attest to the truthfulness of every answer and all supporting documents under penalty of perjury.
  • Complete: Omissions can lead to processing delays or denials, so one must fill out all applicable sections comprehensively.

It is the responsibility of the sponsor and household member to ensure the form reflects their financial situation accurately to meet the support requirements for the sponsored immigrant.

Validity Period of Form I-864A

Form I-864A, “Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member,” serves as a binding agreement in which a household member pledges financial support for sponsored immigrants. Importantly, one should understand the timeframe during which this contract remains active.

Initiation of Validity: The Form I-864A’s validity period begins as soon as the sponsored immigrant obtains permanent resident status in the United States. This occurs when they either enter the United States with an immigrant visa or when their status adjusts to permanent resident while in the country.

Duration of Contract: The agreement outlined by Form I-864A is legally enforceable from the start of the immigrant’s permanent residency until they have accrued 40 quarters of work (approximately 10 years) according to Social Security Administration records.

Termination of Contract: The contract’s obligation may end under certain conditions, such as:

  • The sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • The sponsored immigrant can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work.
  • The sponsored immigrant no longer has lawful permanent resident status and has left the U.S.
  • In the unfortunate event of the death of the sponsored immigrant or the signing household member.

It is crucial for sponsors and household members to understand that this financial responsibility does not terminate with divorce or a change in their personal circumstances. They are advised to consult with legal counsel for any clarifications regarding the binding terms of Form I-864A.

Termination of Contract on Form I-864A

The terms of the Form I-864A contract are binding until specific termination conditions are met.

Sponsor’s Death

The contractual obligations under Form I-864A cease if the sponsor dies. This change effectively releases the sponsor’s estate from any further responsibility toward the intending immigrant.

Divorce or Legal Separation

A legal separation or a divorce between the sponsor and the household member does not terminate the contract. Obligations under Form I-864A continue unless another termination condition applies.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The contract ends when the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen. Naturalization releases the sponsor and household member from the support obligations.

Working 40 Qualifying Quarters

The obligations under Form I-864A are lifted once the sponsored immigrant has worked for 40 qualifying quarters, as defined by the Social Security Administration. Credits may be accumulated through their work or that of a spouse during marriage.

Consequences of Breach

When a breach of Form I-864A occurs, it can lead to significant legal implications for the sponsor involved. Understanding the potential consequences is crucial for anyone entering into this contractual agreement.

Government Reimbursement Claims

If an individual sponsored under Form I-864A receives certain types of public benefits, the U.S. government can initiate reimbursement claims against the sponsor. The government has the authority to sue the sponsor for the cost of the benefits provided. It’s vital to recognize that these claims may include not just the principal amounts but also the costs of collection, including legal fees.

Impact on Legal Status

The sponsor’s failure to fulfill the obligations of Form I-864A can affect their legal status. While the sponsorship itself does not directly impact immigration status, non-compliance can lead to legal proceedings. Such proceedings have the potential to tarnish an individual’s record, which might be considered during applications for naturalization or when sponsoring other individuals in the future.

Where to File Form I-864A

Applicants must send Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, as part of a larger application package to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It should be submitted in conjunction with Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, which the primary sponsor files.

Mailing Address: The correct mailing address for Form I-864A corresponds to the address provided for Form I-864 submissions and may vary depending on the specific instructions related to the applicant’s underlying immigrant visa application.

Submission with Principal Application:

  • Form I-864A should not be submitted independently.
  • The household member completes Form I-864A when joining the sponsorship with the primary sponsor.
  • Both forms should be sent together to ensure proper processing.

Filing Electronically: As of the current knowledge cutoff date, USCIS does not provide an electronic filing option for Form I-864A. Applicants should check the USCIS website or contact USCIS directly for the most up-to-date information regarding filing methods.

It is essential that the forms are filled out completely and accurately, and that they are submitted to the correct address, according to the principal immigrant’s application instructions. Failure to do so may lead to processing delays or application denial. Always refer to the most recent USCIS instructions for Form I-864 and I-864A to ensure compliance with current filing procedures.

Processing Times and Delays

Processing times for Form I-864A, which is a contractual agreement between a sponsor and a household member to share financial responsibility for a sponsored immigrant, can vary significantly. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not specify exact processing times for this form due to fluctuations in workflow, legal complexities, and individual circumstances.

Delays may occur due to various reasons, including:

  • Incomplete applications or missing documentation
  • High volume of applications received by USCIS
  • The need for additional evidence or review
  • Changes in immigration law or policy

Applicants can generally expect the processing time for Form I-864A to align with that of the associated Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This is because Form I-864A is a supplemental form used in conjunction with the primary Affidavit of Support.

To check current processing times, applicants can:

  1. Visit the USCIS website.
  2. Navigate to the ‘Check Case Processing Times’ section.
  3. Select Form I-864A from the drop-down menu.
  4. Provide the location of the service center processing the form.

Applicants must ensure that their Form I-864A is thoroughly completed and accurately reflects their financial situation to avoid unnecessary delays. It is advisable for sponsors and household members to prepare for potential delays by submitting their forms well in advance of their immigrant relative’s visa interview or adjustment of status application.

For the most current information and updates on delays, one should consult the official USCIS website or contact USCIS customer service. Consideration should be given to the potential impact of processing delays on the sponsored immigrant’s ability to obtain a visa or adjust their status in a timely manner.

Help and Resources

To assist applicants in completing Form I-864A, an array of resources is available:

USCIS Website: The official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website provides the latest version of the form and instructions for filling it out. Applicants may download these documents at no cost.

Legal Assistance: For complex situations or questions, consulting an immigration attorney can provide personalized guidance. They can ensure that applicants understand their obligations under the contract.

Immigration Clinics and Nonprofits: Organizations often offer free or low-cost assistance to those who need help with immigration forms, including I-864A.

Informational Guides: Several online platforms publish comprehensive guides about Form I-864A. These can include:

  • Step-by-step instructions
  • FAQs addressing common concerns
  • Tips for avoiding common mistakes

Customer Service: USCIS maintains a customer service center where applicants can ask procedural questions.

Applicants should always verify the resources’ authenticity and up-to-date status to ensure the information complies with the latest immigration rules and regulations.

Updates and Changes to Form I-864A

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) occasionally updates its forms, including Form I-864A, which is the Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. As of the last update, which occurred on December 22, 2023, the USCIS provided clarifications but no substantial changes to the form’s overall structure or intent.

Form I-864A continues to serve as an attachment to Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support. Its purpose remains to allow household members to combine their income with that of the primary sponsor when the primary sponsor does not meet the income requirements to sponsor an applicant for permanent residence alone.

Key features in the most recent updates of Form I-864A include:

  • Clarified Definitions: The USCIS has enhanced explanations of who qualifies as a household member under the terms of the affidavit of support.
  • Income Reporting: Additional instructions have been provided on how to properly report the income of the household member pledging financial support.

Individuals should be aware that every Form I-864A must be completed and signed by both the sponsor, who is also completing Form I-864, and a household member agreeing to make their financial resources available to assist the sponsored immigrant.

USCIS mandates that the most current version of the form be used for all applications. Prospective applicants and their household members can download the latest version of Form I-864A from the USCIS website.

It is advisable for sponsors and household members to review these instructions carefully before submission to ensure compliance with the updated requirements. They should also monitor the USCIS website for any additional changes that might occur after the latest revision date.