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What is an Affidavit of Support?

Affidavit of Support - Warren Law Firm

If you petition the U.S. government for a member of your family to get their green card, doing so comes with the expectation that you will become their sponsor. A sponsor means you will be responsible for maintaining the financial wellbeing of your relative. To take on this responsibility, you will be required to file an Affidavit of Support with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Let’s discuss this document in detail, including exactly what it is and why you’ll need to file it.

What is an Affidavit of Support, and Why Do You Need to File One?

In essence, an Affidavit of Support, which is USCIS Form I-864, is a contract you sign indicating that you will provide financial support for the relative for whom you’re petitioning for a green card. Once your family member is granted permanent residency, you become their financial sponsor. The primary purpose of this sponsorship is to prevent your relative from becoming a public charge.

What is a Public Charge?

A public charge is a person who must rely on the United States government for financial support. As a public charge, an individual may need to make use of certain federal public benefits to help sustain themselves. These benefits may include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

What if Your Sponsored Relative Uses Public Benefits?   

If the family member you sponsor makes use of public benefits, you—as their sponsor—are responsible for paying back the U.S. government.

Who May Become a Sponsor?

To become a sponsor, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who is at least 18 years old, and you must live in the United States or in a territory of the U.S. You also need to meet a certain income requirement.

The Income Requirement for Sponsorship

To qualify to sponsor a relative for a green card you need to fulfil certain requirements regarding your household income, which include:

  • Earning a household income that is equal to or greater than 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level, as it relates to your household size and your state of residence
  • A household income that’s equal to or greater than 100 percent of the U.S. poverty level, as it pertains to your household size and your state of residence, if you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and your relative is your marital partner or child

Documents Required for Sponsorship

Documents that you’ll need to provide in order to sponsor your family member include a copy of your green card, and a copy of your birth certificate, passport, or Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization.

Documentation for Proof of Income

You will have to provide certain documents and evidence as proof of your income for financial sponsorship. These documents include copies of the most recent six months of your pay stubs, copies of your most recent three 1099 income tax filings, as well as a copy of your most recent W-2 and federal income tax return. You may also submit any other documents that prove your income.

Options if You Have Difficulty Meeting the Income Requirement for Sponsorship

If you’re unable to satisfy the income requirement for sponsorship based on your own household income as it currently is, you have options. You may include the cash value of your assets, the income and assets of individuals in your household, and/or enlist the help of a joint sponsor. Let’s discuss each of these three options.

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Adding in the Cash Value of Your Assets

What is an Affidavit of SupportIf your household income falls short of the requirement thresholds, you may factor in the cash value of your assets. This means any funds you have in savings accounts, your investments in stocks and bonds, as well as any property you own.

The total cash value of the assets you consider must be five times greater than the difference between your household income and the income requirement of 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. To calculate this, subtract your total household income from the income requirement. Your assets should be worth five times that difference.

There are two exceptions to this rule: (1). If you’re a U.S. citizen and the person you’re sponsoring is your spouse, or your son or daughter who is 18 years old or more, the minimum value of your assets must only be three times the difference between your household income and 125 percent of the federal poverty level for your household.

And (2): If the person you’re sponsoring is an orphan who is traveling to the U.S. to be adopted, as an adoptive parent your assets only need to equal or exceed the difference between your household income and 125 percent of the federal poverty level for the size of your family.

Adding in the Income and Assets of Individuals in Your Household

You can figure-in the income and assets of individuals in your household if:

  • They’re related to you by marriage, birth, or adoption
  • They were listed as a dependent on your most recent federal tax return; or
  • They have lived with you for the past six months

These individuals will need to complete Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.

If the family member you’re sponsoring meets the conditions noted above, you can count in their income and assets, too. But they won’t need to fill out Form I-864A, unless they have their own family members accompanying them.

Getting a Joint Sponsor

A joint sponsor is someone who plans to assist you with the monetary support of the intending immigrant. This sponsor has to be able to satisfy the 125 percent income threshold alone, and not in combination with your income. To prove their commitment, they’ll need to fill out an affidavit of support.

Five Fast Facts

  • The higher the number of family members who live in a sponsor’s household, the higher the income required to satisfy federal poverty guidelines.
  • An affidavit of support should be completed and provided to an intending immigrant when they are ready to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, in the United States, or when they are scheduled for a visa interview at a United States consulate abroad.
  • A sponsor is responsible for the financial wellbeing of their immigrant family member until the relative becomes a U.S. citizen, works for 40 quarters in the U.S., ceases to be a permanent resident and leaves the U.S., or becomes deceased.
  • Divorce does not end a sponsor’s financial obligation.
  • Individuals who do not require an affidavit of support include orphans who are formally adopted abroad by U.S. citizens, individuals who have worked for 40 quarters in the United States—or can be credited with it, and people who have attained an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) as abused spouses, self-petitioning widows, widowers, or children.

Do You Need Help Submitting an Affidavit of Support for a Green Card?

If you’re sponsoring a relative for a green card, you’ll need to complete an Affidavit of Support. Submitting it fully and correctly is essential to the success of your case, and we can help! Call our office and schedule a consultation. Our team is here to answer your questions and provide the legal guidance you need.

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