Demystifying Form I-864: A Comprehensive Guide to Completing the Affidavit of Support for U.S. Immigration Sponsorship

Posted on Apr 14, 2023 by Chris Prescott

Financial sponsorship is a crucial aspect of the immigration process, especially in family-based cases, e.g., spousal, parent, and sibling petitions. This form is used to establish the relationship between a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and their foreign relative who is seeking to immigrate to the United States.

Here are the key points to understanding financial sponsorship:

  1. Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): As part of the family-based immigration process. The Petitioner (the U.S. citizen or permanent resident) is required to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This form is a legally binding contract in which the Petitioner commits to financially support the intending immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public charge.
  2. Financial Eligibility: The Petitioner must meet certain income requirements to be eligible to sponsor their relative. The Petitioner’s income must be at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for their household size, including the intending immigrant. If the Petitioner’s income falls short, they may need to use a joint sponsor or provide additional evidence of assets to meet the financial requirements.
  3. Joint Sponsor: A joint sponsor is someone who agrees to financially support the intending immigrant along with the petitioner. The joint sponsor must also submit Form I-864 and meet the income requirements. A joint sponsor can be any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years old, currently residing in the U.S., and meets the financial eligibility criteria.
  4. Required Documentation: Along with Form I-864, the Petitioner and any joint sponsor must provide supporting documentation, such as tax returns, W-2 forms, pay stubs, and other evidence of income, assets, and employment. These documents are used to verify the financial ability of the petitioner and joint sponsor to support the intending immigrant.
  5. Legal Obligation: Signing Form I-864 and acting as a financial sponsor creates a legal obligation for the Petitioner and joint sponsor to provide financial support to the intending immigrant. This obligation continues until the intending immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has earned 40 quarters of work credit (10 yrs), is no longer a permanent resident and has departed the United States, or based on the death of the intending immigrant. Divorce does not terminate this continuing obligation.

Here are the steps to complete Form I-864:

  1. Gather the necessary documents: You will need certain documents to complete Form I-864, including your recent tax returns, W-2s, and 1099s, as well as proof of your current employment and income. You may also need to provide additional evidence, such as bank statements, property deeds, or other financial assets.
  2. Provide your personal information: Fill in your name, address, contact information, and Social Security number in Part 1 of Form I-864.
  3. Identify the sponsored immigrant: Provide the name, address, and other relevant details of the intending immigrant you are sponsoring in Part 2 of the form.
  4. Include any other family members immigrating with the intending immigrant, including his/her spouse and minor children in Part 3.
  5. Include your information as the Petitioner or joint sponsor in Part 4.
  6. Include household size: In Part 5, you will need to list the number of people living in your household, including yourself, your spouse, dependents, and other individuals you have sponsored on Form I-864 in the past.
  7. Report your income: In Part 6, you will need to provide information about your income, including your total income, household income, and the specific sources of your income. You may also need to attach supporting documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, and employment letters to verify your income.
  8. Demonstrate financial ability: If your income alone is not sufficient to meet the income requirements, you may need to use assets or the income of household members to meet the minimum income requirements. Part 7 of Form I-864 allows you to provide details about your assets or the assets of household members.
  9. Sign and date the form: As the sponsor, you will need to sign and date Form I-864 in Part 8. If you have an interpreter to assist you with the form, they will also need to sign and date the form in Part 9.
  10. Submit the form: Once you have completed and signed Form I-864, make sure to review it carefully for accuracy and attach all necessary supporting documents. File the form along with the immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application for the intending immigrant. Keep a copy of the completed form for your records.

Is the Form I-864A required?

Completing Form, I-864A, also known as the Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, is a supplementary form that may be required when multiple sponsors are using their combined income to meet the financial requirements for sponsoring an intending immigrant to come to the United States.

To be eligible the Household member needs to be at least 18 years of age and can include the intending immigrant, spouse, parent, child, adult son or daughter or sibling relative of the sponsor, provided the relative resides with the sponsor.

There are two ways in which the intending immigrant can be a household member:

  1. Intending immigrant resides with the sponsor and can demonstrate that his/her income is from a lawful source and will continue until he/she obtains their green card.
  2. Intending immigrant is the sponsor’s spouse and can demonstrate that his/her income is from a lawful source and will continue until he/she obtains their green card.

If the Sponsor is including the intending immigrant’s income on the I-864, the intending immigrant will need to complete the I-864A only if he/she has accompanying dependents.  If the intending immigrant is using their assets to demonstrate financial ability, then I-864 is not required even if there are accompanying dependents.

It’s important to understand that both the I-864 and I-864A are legally binding contracts and before signing one of these you should consult with an experienced Immigration Attorney to understand the consequences.

If you have questions regarding the above, please contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott at cprescott@patellegal.com.