Understanding the affidavit of support promising financial help for a visa applicant
What is Form I-134?
If you’re planning on visiting the United States on a tourist or visitor visa, or are coming to the country on a K-1 or K-2 fiancé visa, you can file Form I-134, where someone in the United States promises to financially support you during your time in the country.
One of the most significant hurdles to coming to the United States is showing self-sufficiency and that you have enough funds for your stay. U.S. immigration authorities carefully scrutinize applications to see whether there’s any risk of a person becoming a “public charge.” This means that a person does not have sufficient funds for their stay, will run out of money, and that they may then become dependent on government help.
During the visa application process you will be asked to show proof of financial means for your stay in the United States. As always cash is king, and if your application shows large bank balances or investment accounts with enough funds for the duration of your stay, then that usually is enough. However, not everyone has large bank account balances or multiple assets.
Form I-134 Requirements
The requirements to be a Form I-134 sponsor are:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder.
- You must be able to meet 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines income level for your household size. Essentially, you can only sponsor someone if you meet the income level required for that household size.
- Be willing to financially support the person or people you are sponsoring if they require it. This is a legal contract between you and the U.S. government, so it can be enforced in court.
- Be willing to have your finances and tax returns scrutinized by U.S. federal immigration officials.
At this stage you might be thinking that this sounds very similar to Form I-864, which is filed by family members for green card applicants, and you’d be correct, except that Form I-134 is for applicants coming on temporary visas to the United States, which includes K1 and K2 visa applicants.
Form I-134 is used when a U.S. citizen or green card holder agrees to become a financial sponsor of a visitor visa or a K1 and K2 visa. In effect, instead of the applicant having to prove they have enough money for their stay in the United States, the sponsor steps in and says that they will be the applicant’s financial support.
The sponsor then fills out Form I-134, provides proof of their ability to support the applicant, and signs the legally-binding document. Formally, this document is an “affidavit of support,” and is a legal promise for them to support the applicant during their time in the United States.
These are pretty rigid requirements and again show that this is a formal, legal promise that once you have signed and submitted is enforceable through the legal system, so do not enter it lightly. Read on to find out what the process for filing this form is like.
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Form I-134 Process
There is no need for in-person appearances or to have your biometrics taken with this form. It’s just a form, but it does require evidence and income numbers, so you might want to set aside some time to go through it in detail.
Typically, the visa applicant will already be finalizing their paperwork for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and so this form becomes one of the last steps in their visa journey. However, it can be prepared at any time, and the earlier is often the better.
The form will ask the sponsor to provide the following information:
- Personal details of the sponsor, including address and social security number
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship or green card status
- Information about the visa applicant, known in the form as the “beneficiary.” This will include address, nationality information, and spousal information. Make sure you have those details beforehand.
- The sponsor’s employment and financial information, including stating your income and financial assets. It is incredibly important to be completely accurate, especially as this form is legally binding and any incorrect information could be construed as perjury.
- The sponsor’s dependent and marital situation. This information will be used to see whether they meet 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines requirements for their household size.
- A page that the sponsor signs to formally and legally promise to support the beneficiaries of this form.
- If you had an interpreter or help from a preparer, such as a lawyer, they then have some fields to fill out.
For proof of financial assets, you need to submit photocopies of the following documents, if applicable:
- A signed statement from an officer of the bank or other financial institution that states when you opened an account, the total amount deposited for the past year, and the present balance of such account
- A signed statement from your employer on business letterhead that states the date and nature of your employment, salary paid, and whether the position is temporary or permanent
- A copy of your last U.S. federal income tax return, or a report of commercial rating concern (if self-employed)
- A list containing the serial numbers and denominations of bonds and names of the owners (if applicable)
These documents must be in English, or include a full English translation along with a certification from the translator verifying that the translation is complete and accurate, and that they are competent to translate from the foreign language to English.
Once you’ve filled out the form, gathered and copied the financial evidence, then there’s only one more thing to do: submit it.
Where you submit the form depends on whether the person you are sponsoring is within or outside the United States and what type of application is being submitted. You should ask the applicant to tell you where to submit this affidavit of support for them.
And that’s it, for now. Once the applicant submits their visa application, your information will be looked at along with the application, and USCIS will contact you or the applicant if there’s a need for further evidence or clarification.
Is this the same form that you fill out to sponsor a green card applicant?
No. For green card applicants, Form I-864 is required and has some key differences, including that you must meet 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
I am not a U.S. citizen or green card holder — can I still be a sponsor?
No. The sponsor must be a green card holder or U.S. citizen.
Does the sponsor have to be related to the applicant?
No. As long as they are a green card holder or U.S. citizen, the sponsor can be unrelated to the applicant. They only have to be willing to support them and share financial information.
What is the application fee?
There is no application fee for Form I-134.
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