What is an Affidavit of Support?
Promising financial support as a green card sponsor with Form I-864
What is an Affidavit of Support?
The “Affidavit of Support” is a signed document to accept financial responsibility for a family member who is seeking a green card. It is also known as U.S. Immigration Form I-864.
For simplicity, we’ll call the person signing this Affidavit of Support the “financial sponsor.” This is usually (but not always) the same person as the sponsoring family member.
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USCIS Fee Increase
The government filing fees for family-based green card applications could increase drastically as soon as summer 2023.
In January 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal that would increase filing costs for most visa application types, with family-based green cards seeing a significant spike. The proposed fees are not yet in effect, but Boundless is tracking all government updates regarding cost changes closely.
Be sure to check out Boundless’ USCIS fees guide for real-time updates on the proposal and a full breakdown of the expected costs.
Form I-864 Processing Time
The processing time for Form I-864 currently is around 17 months, but will vary depending on your situation. Note that Form I-864 is submitted as part of a family-based green card application, so the processing time is how long it takes for your green card application to be approved.
The best way to ensure your green card application doesn’t get delayed is to file all your paperwork correctly the first time around. With Boundless, our team will help you steer clear of common mistakes and make sure your forms and documents are ready for attorney review. Get started today!
AOS Financial Requirements
Boundless has prepared a detailed article on the income requirements for a financial sponsor. Here is a short summary:
- The financial sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. green card holder, at least 18 years old, and living in the United States.
- The financial sponsor must have an annual income that is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The more people there are in your household, the higher your income will need to be to meet the requirements. The sponsor will need to file Form I-864P, which is used to determine the minimum income requirement needed to file Form I-864 (the Affidavit of Support).
- The financial sponsor can also use assets (not just income) to meet these requirements. Assets include cash, stocks and bonds, and property (for example, a home).
- It is possible to have a household member or even a non-family member help meet the income or asset requirements, if the sponsoring spouse does not meet them alone.
- The spouse seeking the green card (the “beneficiary”) may also use his or her own income to meet the financial requirements, but only as long as this income will continue from the same source after the green card is obtained.
Do you meet the qualifications for financial sponsorship? Boundless can help determine the best visa path and financial sponsorship plan for you. Learn more about what Boundless can do to help.
AOS Financial Obligations
The Affidavit of Support is essentially a contract between the financial sponsor and the U.S. government. The government has the right to recover from the financial sponsor certain public benefits (such as Supplemental Insurance Income, or SSI, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) used by their spouse after obtaining a green card. (See the USCIS website for a list of public benefits that must be repaid — “Benefits Subject to Public Charge Consideration” — and those that need not be repaid.)
The financial sponsor’s obligations under the Affidavit of Support end only when one of four things happen:
- The death of either spouse.
- The spouse seeking a green card becomes a U.S. citizen.
- The spouse seeking a green card has worked for 40 quarters in the United States.
- The spouse seeking a green card moves out of the United States permanently.
If you have been a financial sponsor for others in the past (either as the primary sponsor or as a secondary co-sponsor), everyone you sponsored in the past will need to be counted as you get ready to file a new Affidavit of Support—unless one of the events mentioned above has happened and your obligations to that person have ended.
Form I-864 FAQs
If you received Form I-864 through the National Visa Center (NVC), you can submit it online through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
If you are filing Form I-864 directly with USCIS, for example you are filing it along with Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) or Form I-129F, (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)), you can send it to the USCIS Chicago lockbox.
To qualify as a financial sponsor who can file Form I-864 and promise support for someone who is applying for a green card, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who lives, or is domiciled, in the U.S..
As an affidavit of support, Form I-864 does not expire, unless the person who is being sponsored becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked 40 quarters of work in the U.S. (usually 10 years), or leaves the U.S..
When filing Form I-864, it’s important to make sure you fill out the correct form.
If you are filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for multiple relatives, or Form I-140 (Petition for Immigrant Worker) for an employment-based green card, then you will need to use Form I-864.
If you are filing Form I-130 for only one person, such as your spouse or one of your relatives, and you will not need a joint sponsor, then you may be able to use Form I-864EZ instead of Form I-864.
If you need to include the income of one of your household members to meet the requirements for financial support, then you may need to file Form I-864A (Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member) together with Form I-864.
If you are filing as a joint sponsor, then you will need a separate Form I-864 for each sponsor.
If you believe you do not need to file Form I-864, for example, if the person you are petitioning for has already worked 40 quarters (roughly 10 years) in the U.S., then you may be able to file I-864W (Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support).
You will also need to make sure you have filed the latest version of the form, available through USCIS. At Boundless, we can help offer you peace of mind and review your green card application.
Form I-864 should be completed when the person who is applying for their green card has either been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview at a consular office outside the U.S., or is inside the U.S. already and they are ready to submit Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status).
If you have petitioned for your spouse to enter on a K3 visa, or your fiancé(e) to enter on a K-1 visa, then you should file an affidavit of support once they adjust their status to permanent resident after arriving in the U.S..
The income requirement to qualify as a green card sponsor will vary depending on how many children and other relatives live with you, which state you live in, and whether or not you are on active military duty for the U.S..
Boundless has prepared a guide to know if you meet the minimum annual income for a marriage-based green card where you can find out more. You may also be able to meet the income requirements through the use of a joint sponsor. Learn more about how Boundless can help you with the forms required for your green card application, and make the process simpler for you.