I-864: Affidavit of Support

Table of Contents

Updated 15th March 2023

When applying for a green card, there are many steps you need to take. Not only do you need to meet several eligibility requirements, but the person sponsoring your permanent residency petition must also fulfill several requirements. One thing your sponsor must do before you can be granted a green card is to complete Form I-864: Affidavit of Support.

The green card process is incredibly complicated. It’s important to understand every aspect of what you will face as you attempt to become a permanent resident of the United States. In this guide, you will find all the information you need to know about Form I-864: Affidavit of Support to ensure it is completed correctly and filed on time.

What Is an I-864: Affidavit of Support?

An affidavit of support is a document filed as part of a green card application. The person filing Form I-864 is taking financial responsibility for the party petitioning for permanent residency. In most cases, the person filing the affidavit of support form will be the same person that is sponsoring the application of the foreign national.

To petition for an immigrant to become a U.S. and serve as their sponsor, you must show that you are able and prepared to provide financial support for the applicant. The purpose of this affidavit of support is to show the U.S. government that the immigrant is not likely to become a “public charge” and require financial assistance from the state.

Form I-864 serves as a legal contract between the petitioner, the immigrant, and the United States government. This form is required by law for most immigrants attempting to secure a green card. An affidavit of support serves as a safety net should the immigrant run into any financial difficulties after receiving permanent residency in the United States.

Who Is Eligible to File an I-864?

To file Form I-864: Affidavit of Support and become a sponsor for a green card applicant, you must meet several qualifying criteria, including:

  • Being a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen
  • Proving that the United States is the sponsor’s country of domicile
  • Being 18 years of age or older
  • Having an income of 125% above the federal poverty guidelines

What Are the Responsibilities of a Sponsor?

The financial sponsor is responsible for supporting the green card holder if they find themselves in a difficult financial situation. The sponsor must either help the green card holder pay their financial obligations or reimburse the United States government for any money paid to the green card holder should they seek public benefits from the state.

The responsibilities of the sponsor will continue until one of the following situations occurs:

  • The green card holder being sponsored becomes a United States citizen
  • The green card holder moves out of the United States permanently and forfeits their permanent resident status
  • The green card holder has worked a total of 40 quarters in the United States
  • The green card holder is subject to removal but instead applies for a new grant of adjustment of status with a new affidavit of support from another sponsor
  • The green card holder dies

It is important to note that if you are sponsoring a spouse and you end up divorcing, your responsibility to support them will not end unless one of the situations mentioned above also occurs.

Financial Requirements of a Sponsor

The financial sponsor of the green card applicant must have an annual income of at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. That means that the more people there are in your household, the higher your income will have to be. However, if your income is not high enough, there are other ways to meet the requirements, including:

  • Using assets such as cash, stocks, bonds, and property to make up for any separation between your income and the required income level
  • Adding a co-sponsor to the application who will help make up for any discrepancy in income level
  • Using the income from the applicant to make up the extra required income, but only if the applicant will continue to receive their income from the same source that was paying them before they applied for a green card

There are also exceptions to the income requirement. For example, if the sponsor is on active duty with a branch of the United States Armed Forces and is sponsoring a spouse or minor child for permanent residence, they will only have to have an income level of 100% of the federal poverty line.

Additionally, modifications to the income requirement are made for residents of Alaska and Hawaii.

Financial Obligations of a Sponsor

It is critical to consider the financial obligations of a sponsor if the green card applicant cannot support themselves financially without assistance. The requirement to pay back the government if the applicant is forced to apply for federal financial assistance can be particularly daunting.

It is critical to consider your financial means when agreeing to sponsor an applicant. Even if you meet the technical requirements necessary to become a financial sponsor, you might find that the financial toll you face in the event that the green card holder is unable to support themselves is significant.

Who Needs an Affidavit of Support?

Most immigrants applying for a green card must have an affidavit of support from their sponsor. Form I-864: Affidavit of Support needs to be completed by the petitioning sponsor before the immigrant visa can be received overseas or the adjustment of status can be processed for immigrants already in the United States.

Those who are required to have an affidavit of support include:

  • All immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including spouses, unmarried children under age 21, and parents
  • All extended family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including unmarried sons and daughters age 21 and over, married sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters
  • Employment-based immigrants when a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national relative submitted the immigrant visa petition or if a relative of this type has a significant ownership interest in the party that filed the petition

Who Is Exempt From Submitting Form I-864: Affidavit of Support?

While the majority of green card applicants are required to have an affidavit of support from their petitioning sponsor, there are several exceptions to this rule. Parties exempt from this requirement include immigrants who:

  • Have already earned Social Security work credits
  • Are eligible for the Child Citizenship Act
  • Are self-petitioning as the widow(er) of a United States citizen
  • Are self-petitioning based on abuse (VAWA)

Social Security Work Credits Exemption

In order to qualify for an exemption based on earned social security work credits, the applicant must have:

  • Worked for 40 Social Security quarters and earned the 40 credits for this work in the United States
  • Been married to a U.S. permanent resident or citizen while their spouse worked for 40 Social Security quarters and earned the required credits
  • Been under the age of 18 while their U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent earned 40 Social Security work credits
  • Reached the required 40 credits as a combination of their own work, and that of their spouse or parent

It is important to note that the amount earned in a quarter determines whether that quarter qualifies for a Social Security work credit. That means that even if you have worked the full quarter, you may not have received the credit for that quarter. You can check if your earnings were enough to qualify for a U.S. work credit on the Social Security Administration website.

Child Citizenship Act Exemption

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) allows certain immigrant children to immediately become United States citizens once they obtain lawful permanent resident status. This form of obtaining citizenship is known as a derivation of citizenship.

Remember that one of the ways that the obligation of the party filing Form I-864 is ended is by the immigrant obtaining U.S. citizenship. Because citizenship is immediately obtained, Form I-864 is not required in these cases.

Self-Petition by a Widow(er) of a United States Citizen Exemption

If an immigrant was married to a United States citizen who died, they self-petition to become a permanent resident regardless of the duration of their marriage. However, the self-petition must be filed within two years of the death of the spouse, and the petitioner must not remarry in the meantime.

Immigrants applying in this manner will not have to submit Form I-864: Affidavit of Support. However, they will still need to show that they are unlikely to become a public charge by filing Form I-360: Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

If their spouse filed Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative before their death, it will automatically convert to an I-360. However, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will need to be notified of the death first.

Self-Petition Based on Abuse (VAWA) Exemption

Abused spouses or children self-petitioning to become lawful permanent residents under the Violence Against Women Act are also exempt from filing Form I-864. However, they will still need to complete Form I-360 and clear the public charge hurdle.

Proving Your Exemption From Filing Form I-864

In order to prove that you qualify for an exemption, you will have to submit other paperwork along with your application. In most cases, this will mean filing Form I-864W: Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support.

If your exemption is work-based, you will need to create an account on the Social Security website to show you have obtained the required 40 work credits.

How to Complete Form I-864?

To complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support under 213A section of the INA, you must use the HHS poverty guidelines. Below table shows you the poverty guideline and these are effective from Mar.1, 2023.

For the 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or childFor all other sponsors
Add $5,140 for each additional personAdd $6,425 for each additional person

For Alaska:

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or childFor all other sponsors
Add $6,430 for each additional personAdd $8,038 for each additional person

For Hawaii:

Sponsor’s Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or childFor all other sponsors
Add $5,910 for each additional personAdd $7,387 for each additional person

Types of Affidavit of Support Forms & Their Purpose

There are multiple types of Form I-864, and it is essential that the correct version be submitted for your application.

Form I-864

When filing Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative for multiple relatives or Form I-140: Petition for Immigrant Worker, the sponsoring petitioner will need to submit Form I-864.

Form I-864EZ

When filing Form I-130 for a single applicant, you can use Form I-864 instead, as long as you are submitting the application as a sole sponsor.

Form I-864A

When you are using the income of a household member to meet the financial support obligations, you will likely need to file Form I-864A: Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member along with Form I-864

Form I-864W

If you believe that the applicant is exempt from filing Form I-864, you will likely need to file Form I-864W: Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support.

You should also note that if you are filing as a joint sponsor, each sponsor will need to complete and submit a separate I-864 form. You must also ensure you are filing the latest version of any of these forms. You can get the most recent version on the USCIS website.

What Documents Do You Need to File an I-864?

There are several supporting documents that need to be submitted along with Form I-864. The required documents will vary depending on the status of the petitioning sponsor.

When Filing as a U.S. Citizen or National

If you are submitting Form I-864 as a U.S. citizen or national, you will need to include photocopies of all the following documents that apply to your situation:

When Filing as a Lawful Permanent Resident

If you are submitting Form I-864 as a lawful permanent resident, you will need to include photocopies of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card and your most recent year’s federal income tax returns. While not required, it is also a good idea to submit your tax returns for the preceding two years as well.

You can submit your tax returns in multiple formats. You can either provide photocopies of your returns, including all supporting documents, or you can request a tax transcript from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by filing Form 4506-T with the IRS.

Additional Supporting Documents That May Be Required

Depending on the specifics of your application, you may also need to file a variety of other supporting documents. Some of the documents that may be needed include:

  • A separate Form I-864A for each household member contributing to the financial support of the applicant
  • Proof that the immigrant applicant’s current employment will continue if their income is being used as part of their financial support
  • Proof of active military service for the petitioning sponsor if only using 100 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines as support
  • Photocopies of original affidavits of support for any additional immigrants you are sponsoring
  • Proof of status as a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. nation if you are a joint sponsor, substitute sponsor, or relative of an employment-based immigrant requiring an affidavit of support
  • A copy of Schedule C, D, E, or F from your most recent federal income tax return establishing your income from your business if you are currently self-employed
  • Documentation of the assets of a household member if using these assets as part of the finances used to prove the ability to support the applicant.

When to File an Affidavit of Support?

You will need to complete the USCIS affidavit of support when the immigrant applying for a green card has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at a consular office outside of the United States or when the applicant is ready to submit Form I-485: Adjustment of Status if they are already in the country.

If you are petitioning on behalf of a spouse to enter on a K3 visa or a fiancé(e) to enter on a K-1 visa, you will need to file Form I-864 once they adjust their status to permanent resident after arriving in the United States.

How Should You Fill Out the I-864 Form?

There are several sections that will need to be completed when filing USCIS Form I-864. The sections of the I-864 Form include:

  • Part 1: Relationship
  • Part 2: Principal immigrant
  • Part 3: Sponsored immigrants
  • Part 4: Sponsor
  • Part 5: Sponsor household size
  • Part 6: Sponsor employment and income
  • Part 7: Assets used to supplement income
  • Part 8: Sponsor contact information, certification, and signature
  • Part 9: Interpreter contact information, certification, and signature
  • Part 10: Preparer contact information, declaration, and signature
  • Part 11: Additional information

Part 1: Relationship

If petitioning based on family relationship, you will need to check box 1.a. If petitioning based on employment, you will need to check box 1.b. If petitioning for a relative you don’t personally employ, but for whom you are in charge of over 5% of the company that employs them, you will need to check box 1.c.

If you made an agreement to fill out the form as a joint sponsor, you will need to check box 1.d. or 1.e. If serving as a substitute sponsor, you will need to check box 1.f.

Part 2: Principal Immigrant

In this section, you will need to fill out information from the immigrant for whom you are petitioning. This includes providing the immigrant’s:

  • Full name
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Country of citizenship or nationality
  • USCIS account number or alien registration number (if available)

Part 3: Sponsored Immigrants

In this section, you will need to check “no” for the first question if you are the second of two joint sponsors. If applicable, check the box for the second question and list your family members (not including any family members who need to be listed on a separate Form I-130.

For question 29, you will need to mention how many immigrants you are sponsoring on this affidavit of support.

Part 4: Sponsor

In this section, you will need to provide information about yourself. The country of domicile for the sponsor must typically be the United States, which means that your reply to question 5 should state that you live in the United States.

You may still be able to sponsor an applicant if you don’t live in the United States. However, you will need to provide additional documents proving eligibility.

Additionally, you will need to provide details about yourself, including your:

  • Full name
  • Mailing address
  • Physical address
  • Date of birth
  • Residency or citizenship status
  • Social Security Number
  • Military service status
  • Sponsor alien registration number or USCIS online account number (if applicable)

Part 5: Sponsor Household Size

In this section, you will answer questions about your household size. This information is necessary to ensure you have the financial means to support the immigrant applicant. It is essential not to give information about any household member twice.

When answering questions about your unmarried children under the age of 21, you will need to include all children, even if you don’t have legal custody of them.

Part 6: Sponsor Employment and Income

For questions one through six, you will need to check one or more boxes depending on what is applicable to your situation. For question seven, you will need to provide your current individual annual income. In the following questions, you will be asked about your current annual household income.

For questions 23 through 25, you will need to include information about your federal income tax return.

Part 7: Assets Used to Supplement Income

You will only have to complete this section if your income is not sufficient to cover the minimum requirements related to the poverty guidelines. If using your assets to supplement your income, you will need to include information about:

  • Your personal assets
  • Your household member’s assets
  • The applicant immigrant’s assets
  • The total value of all assets

Part 8: Sponsor Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If another party filed the form based on the information you provided, you will need to check the second box. You will also need to indicate whether this person is an accredited representative or lawyer. You will then need to sign and date the form in boxes 6.a. and 6.b.

Part 9: Interpreter Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If you used an interpreter to complete the form, they will need to complete this section.

Part 10: Preparer Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature

If you use a preparer, they will need to complete part 10.

Part 11: Additional Information

You can use this section to provide any additional information you did not have space for elsewhere in the form.

How to Submit an I-864: Affidavit of Support?

Once you have completed Form I-864: Affidavit of Support, you can upload and submit your signed form to the National Visa Center (NVC) via the Consular Electronic Application Center. You will also need to upload and submit all supporting documents along with Form I-864. Remember that you must submit all pages of the form, even if some are left blank.

What Happens After You Submit an I-864?

After Form I-864 has been submitted to the NVC, it will be reviewed. The NVC will review all of your documents simultaneously to avoid sending out a “false checklist” asking for documents already submitted.

Once all documents have been received and reviewed, you will receive a letter from NVC.

What Are the Penalties for Filing False Information on an I-864?

If you are found to have intentionally provided false information on Form I-864, you could not only be barred from sponsoring anyone in their attempt to obtain permanent residency, but you could also jeopardize the chances of ever immigrating for the applicant on whose behalf you filed.

In addition to immigration bars, you could also be faced with criminal charges. The criminal penalties for this fraud can result in:

  • Imprisonment for up to five years
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Felony probation

Form I-864 Processing Time

The current processing time for Form I-864 is generally between 11 and 20 months. However, it could be longer, depending on the backlog at the office where you are filing. Additionally, if you fail to fully and correctly complete the form, you could face significant delays.

Form I-864 FAQs

If you still have questions about Form I-864: Affidavit of Support, check out these frequently asked questions for the answers you need.

1. My Income Is Too Low to Sponsor an I-864. What Can I Do to Become a Sponsor?

If your income is below the required threshold to become a sponsor, you still have options for sponsoring an immigrant’s green card application. There are three main paths to reaching the levels you need to become a sponsor.

Add the Income of Other Household Members

If you have a spouse, parents, siblings, or adult children living in your residence, you may be able to combine their income with yours to reach the required income amount. Each household member contributing to the income for the application will have to file Form I-864A in addition to the Primary Form I-864.

Add a Joint Sponsor

Another option is to add a joint sponsor to the application. The maximum number of joint sponsors is two. Joint sponsors are not required to be related to either the petitioner or the immigrant applicant.

Use Assets to Supplement Income

Another option is to supplement your income with assets. You can include any assets that can be easily converted into cash within one year without causing the owner considerable hardship or financial loss. An immigration lawyer can help you determine which assets apply.

2. How Long Is Form I-864 Valid For?

Once filed, Form I-864 does not expire. However, it will become invalidated if the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, abandons their permanent residence and leaves the United States, or earns the required 40 Social Security work credits.

3. What if My Address Changes?

If you have sponsored an immigrant’s petition for permanent residence by filing Form I-864: Affidavit of Support, you should notify USCIS of any change of address within 30 days. Failure to do so could result in delays in processing the immigrant’s application.

However, since this notification is not a legal requirement, you will not face prosecution and resultant penalties should you fail to notify USCIS of your change of address.

4. How Long Will the Sponsor Be Responsible for the Beneficiary?

The length of time s sponsor will be financially responsible for the permanent resident beneficiary will vary depending on the particulars of the immigrant’s situation. In some cases, sponsorship could last a lifetime. However, in most cases, sponsorship will end much sooner than that.

The four main ways in which a sponsor’s responsibilities are terminated are:

  1. When the immigrant becomes a United States citizen
  2. When the immigrant abandons their permanent residency and leaves the county
  3. When the immigrant meets the requirements through work in the United States to obtain 40 Social Security work credits
  4. When the immigrant dies

Get Help Preparing Form I-864: Affidavit of Support

It is essential to fill out all immigration paperwork correctly the first time to avoid any delays in the process. Unfortunately, immigration paperwork like USCIS Form I-864 can often be quite complicated. The best way to ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly from the beginning is to complete your forms with the help of an immigration services company like ImmigrationDirect.

An immigration services company can help make sure that your Form I-864 is filled out completely and correctly and filed on time. Correctly filling out the form from the start will help avoid delays and get the applicant’s green card application processed quickly so they can begin their new life in the United States as a permanent resident.

If you are sponsoring an immigrant for a green card application, we can help ensure that you avoid any mistakes. Contact us today to learn more about our services and lawyer consultation get started on your Form I-864 and other necessary paperwork.

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