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.
RapidVisa 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 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.
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.
With RapidVisa, you get the peace of mind that comes with having an independent immigration attorney who answers your confidential questions and reviews your entire green card application — for no additional fee.
Form I-864 FAQs
Can I file Form I-864 online?
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.
Who can sponsor Form I-864?
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..
How long is Form I-864 valid for?
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..
There are different versions of Form I-864. Which one should I use?
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 RapidVisa, we can help offer you peace of mind and review your green card application.
When should I file Form I-864?
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..
How do I know if I meet the income requirements for Form I-864?
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..
RapidVisa 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.