A Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is a financial support document filed by a sponsor or joint sponsor of an intending immigrant. Once the sponsor signs an affidavit of support, he or she has accepted responsibility to financially support the immigrant after he or she becomes a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). When bringing a relative to live in the U.S. permanently, you, the petitioner, are required to be the sponsor and accept the responsibility. If the income requirements cannot be met by the primary sponsor, there is a chance they may qualify for a joint sponsor.
An affidavit of support form must be submitted together with supporting documents which establishes the income source and income amount listed on the form. Filing the affidavit of support form with incorrect information or incomplete supporting documents will not be accepted. Depending on the income source, certain income evidence documents are required which include but not limited to:
- Most current tax returns with W-2 or 1099 or tax transcripts
- Letter of Employment/Income Letter for self-employed
- Bank statements showing source(s) of income
- Business license, if any
- Documentary proof of liquid assets, if using assets
The reason the government requires all of these income documents from the sponsor is they want to ensure that the sponsor has adequate and steady income, so the immigrant(s) are not at significant risk of becoming a "Public Charge". By signing the affidavit of support, the sponsor accepts all responsibility to financially support the beneficiary. Once the beneficiary you sponsored becomes a lawful permanent resident, any "means-tested" public benefits he or she receives from the government may be required to be reimbursed by the sponsor.
Update: Trump Executive Order June 2019: See "Trump Executive Order to Enforce Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors & Co-Sponsors"
The obligations will not end until one of the four situations occurs:
- The beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen.
- The beneficiary works (and pays taxes) for 40 quarters (10 years if continuous)
- The beneficiary or sponsor dies