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U.S. Visas News

Ink Signature No Longer Required on Affidavits of Support (12/28/2016)

December 28, 2016

As part of our ongoing efforts to be responsive to customer needs in immigrant visa processing, the Department of State is pleased to announce that original or “wet ink” signatures are no longer required on submitted Forms I-864, Affidavit of Support. This also applies to the I-864A, I-864W, and I-864EZ.

Starting January 1, 2017, the National Visa Center (NVC) will accept photocopies and scanned versions of signed Forms I-864 and associated documents. Please note that the form must still be signed; typed names and electronic signatures will not be accepted. NVC will only ask petitioners to submit an amended Form I-864 to NVC if the financial sponsor’s name and personal information are missing; there is no signature at all; or if there are missing pages.

If you received a “checklist” letter prior to January 1, 2017, asking you to submit a corrected Form I-864, please follow the instructions on that letter. If the only item on your checklist letter is a request for an original (in ink) signature, please contact NVC at 1-603-334-0700. A request from NVC for an original signature looks like this:

[ x ] In Part 8. Sponsor's Contract, please correct the following...
        [ x ] Item 6.a.
 You must sign the form and your signature must be
                                original (in ink).

This improvement will simplify the submission of financial evidence in support of a visa application, and decrease the rate of visas refused only because the required documents were not available at the time of the visa interview.

NVC will continue to use an “assessment letter” to address other apparent inconsistencies or errors that NVC finds on a submitted Form I-864. The assessment letter identifies issues that could delay the adjudication of a visa application and encourages the applicant to correct these issues before the interview. If NVC sends you an assessment letter, you do not need to submit a new Form I-864 and/or financial evidence to NVC. Instead, bring a corrected form and any suggested documents to your interview.

Affidavit of Support Basics

U.S. law requires potential immigrants in family-based visa categories to show that they have financial support in the United States. This is done with an Affidavit of Support submitted by the petitioner. The Affidavit of Support, which is also called Form I-864, is a legal contract between the petitioner and the U.S. government. On an Affidavit of Support form, petitioners must prove that they have the ability to financially support the visa applicant(s). Petitioners complete and submit this form to the National Visa Center (NVC) with supporting evidence of their income, such as a federal IRS tax transcript and copies of Forms W-2. Petitioners must submit an Affidavit of Support no matter their level of income.

Petitioners must meet a minimum income level. Petitioners who cannot meet this level, which is called the Federal Poverty Guidelines, have two choices: 1) find a “joint sponsor” who will agree to also financially support the visa applicant, or 2) use the income of a household member to meet the Poverty Guidelines. These additional financial sponsors also have to submit an Affidavit of Support, proof of their income, and proof of their legal status in the United States.

There are four types of Forms I-864; they are all available online on USCIS’s website. A chart of who should use each type of form is online at nvc.state.gov/aos (English) and nvc.state.gov/aos/espanol (Spanish). Also on our website are details of how to show proof of your income. All supporting financial evidence submitted to NVC is included in the visa applicant’s case file and sent to the embassy where the visa interview will take place.

General Rules and Questions

You can find frequently asked questions about the Affidavit of Support on our website. Below is information about the most commonly misunderstood topics:

  • Petitioners must submit a federal tax transcript from the most recent tax year as proof of income. Petitioners must submit their most recent tax return even if there is a joint sponsor or household member income being used to meet the Poverty Guidelines. The only exception is if the petitioner was legally exempt from filing federal income taxes, in which case he or she must submit a statement indicating why they were exempt from filing. We prefer to receive an IRS tax transcript rather than a copy of your tax return; please visit the IRS website for information.

  • Financial sponsors may also need to submit a Form W-2. Sponsors who claim to meet the Poverty Guidelines based on money earned at work and who submitted a tax transcript need to also submit a Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement (provided each tax year by the sponsor’s employer) if they filed taxes under the "married filing jointly" category and received a W-2. If the sponsor submitted a tax return (Form-1040) – not a transcript – then the sponsor, regardless of income tax filing status, needs to include that year’s W-2, if he or she was issued one.

  • Household size includes dependents and other immigrants being sponsored. The Form I-864 asks for the financial sponsor’s household size. The sponsor must include in their household the principal visa applicant and any derivative applicants who plan to immigrate within six months of the petition. The sponsor also must include his or her spouse; unmarried children under 21 (unless these children have reached majority under the law of their place of domicile); anyone else claimed as a dependent on the sponsor's tax return; and other people in the United States whom the sponsor is supporting on a different I-864. A sponsor does not have to include people on other I-864s who have not yet immigrated to the United States.

  • If a sponsor's income does not meet the Poverty Guidelines, he or she can submit the value of assets to make up the difference. Financial sponsors can only include assets that are convertible into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the owner. Sponsors may include the value of their home. They may not include the value of their automobile, unless they can show they have more than one and the primary automobile is not included as an asset. The intending immigrant can include his or her assets in this calculation but needs to file a Form I-864A to do so. If you submit evidence of assets to NVC, they will be included in your case file and only reviewed during your visa interview overseas. NVC will not review these documents.

  • Financial sponsors must be domiciled in the United States. Domicile is where a person has his or her principal "residence," with the intention to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future. If a financial sponsor has been living abroad, he or she can reestablish domicile in the United States but will need to provide proof that they have done so before any income can be considered in support of the intending immigrant’s visa application. For more information about domicile, visit our frequently asked questions online.