The Affidavit of Support is a legal contract between you (the petitioner for an immigrant visa applicant) and the US Government. It ensures that the visa applicant has adequate means of financial support and is unlikely to become a public charge after entering the US.
Public Charge refers to becoming dependent upon the government for the expenses of living (food, shelter, clothing etc.). Following U.S. immigration law an applicant is ineligible for a visa if he/she will be a public charge. For more information about Public Charge see the USCIS website.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212 (a)(4) restricts the admission into the United States of any foreign national who, in the judgment of the U.S Department of State officer deciding a visa application, the Department of Homeland Security office, or an immigration judge reviewing an application for admission, is likely at any time to become a public charge.
In sponsoring your family member to visit the U.S. for a short period of time either you as the sponsor or the visa applicant must show sufficient income or adequate financial means to support the applicant while in the U.S.
Sponsor and Alien Liability
Under section 213 of the Act, if the person you are sponsoring becomes a public charge, the agency that provides assistance may be able to sue you to recover the cost of the assistance.
In addition to that provision, your income and assets may be combined with the income and assets of the person you are sponsoring in determining whether that person is eligible for Food Stamps, 7 U.S.C. 2014(i)(1), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), 42 U.S.C. 1382j, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), 42 U.S.C. 608.
Proof of Financial Support and Affidavit of Support Forms
During the visa interview, applicants will be required to present evidence to the Consular Officer that they will not become a public charge in the U.S. You may present evidence that you are able to financially support yourself or that your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is able to provide support. The Consular Officer may request that a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support be submitted by the U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
As the sponsor, you must show you have sufficient income or financial resources to assure that the alien you are sponsoring will not become a public charge while in the United States.
Note: If you are sponsoring more than one alien, you must submit a separate Form I-134 for each alien.
Form I-134 must be signed in your full name. (Note: Signing Form I-134 is under penalty of perjury under U.S. law). For this reason, it is not necessary to sign Form I-134 before a notary, nor to have your signature notarized after you sign it.
Initial evidence of sufficient income includes:
- Copies of three (3) most recent years of tax returns that the sponsor filed with Internal Revenue Service. If the sponsor does not have copies of these records, he or she will need to provide an explanation as to why the tax returns were not filed. If the sponsor filed a joint tax return and are using only their own income to qualify to sponsor, then it will be required to submit copies of W-2s for the most recent three (3) tax years.
- If the sponsor has other income sources such as members of household or dependents in order to reach the minimum income requirement it will be required to include their federal income tax returns for the three (3) most recent years. In using other income sources it will be required each person complete Form I-864a, which is a contract between the sponsor and household member.
- Proof of current employment or self-employment will need to be provided. Copies of recent pay stubs or employment verification statement from the employer on company letterhead that states the start date of employment, work performed and current salary.
- Statement from an officer of the bank or other financial institutions with deposits, identifying the following details regarding the account:
- Date account opened
- Total amount deposited for the past year; and
- Present balance
- Statement(s) of your employer on business stationery showing:
- Date and nature of employment
- Salary paid; and
- Whether the position is temporary or permanent
- If self-employed:
- Copy of last income tax return filed; or
- Report of commercial rating concern.
- List containing serial numbers and denominations of bonds and name of record owner(s)
It is important to complete and include all the necessary supporting documents when submitting your affidavit of support. Failure to completely fill out Form I-134 or not include the appropriate documents as supporting evidence could result in denial of the application.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may require the sponsor to provide additional information or evidence before approval of the affidavit of support.
Unless specifically required that an original document be filed with an application or petition, an ordinary legible photocopy (standard 8 1/2 x 11 letter size) may be submitted. Original documents submitted when not required will remain a part of the record.
If you have changed your address, you must inform USCIS of your new address. For information on filing a change of address go to the USCIS website or contact the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
Disclaimer: The information herein is not intended as legal advice and is provided for general information only.Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. laws should be addressed to an attorney and/or government officials.