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I-864 Affidavit of Support (FAQs)

The National Visa Center's (NVC) Role

What is NVC's role?

Filling Out the Forms

Where do I find instructions?

Where can I get more information?

How does the sponsor get the forms and get started?

Who signs the forms and where are they submitted?

Household Size

How do I calculate my household size?

Eligibility to Submit an Affidavit of Support

Who can be a Financial Sponsor?

Income Requirements and Poverty Guidelines

What are Poverty Guidelines?

What happens if the petitioner doesn't have the enough income?

Is a sufficient Form I-864 the only consideration for meeting any public charge issues at the time of the visa interview?

If the poverty guidelines change between the time the petitioner signed the Affidavit of Support and the issuance of an immigrant visa, must the petitioner/sponsor and joint sponsor, if required, submit a new Form I-864?

Can a credible offer of employment for the visa applicant replace or supplement an insufficient Affidavit of Support?

Use of Assets to Meet Income Requirements

How can a sponsor use assets to meet the minimum Federal Poverty Guidelines?

What cash value of assets is needed?

What can be used as assets?

Can the immigrant visa applicant count assets that he or she owns that are outside the United States, such as real estate or personal property?

Can free housing be counted as income?

Domicile

What does domicile mean?

Can a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) petitioner who is not domiciled (living) in the United States be a financial sponsor?

If the petitioner does not have a domicile in the United States, can a joint sponsor file an I-864?

What kinds of employment abroad can be counted as U.S. domicile?

Can a sponsor maintain U.S. domicile while living abroad temporarily?

How can a financial petitioner establish a domicile?

Accompanying Family Members

Do family members following to join the principal applicant need separate Affidavits of Support and supporting documents?

What do family members need if they have separate visa petitions?

Is one joint sponsor allowed to sponsor only some of the applicants while the other applicants are sponsored by another joint sponsor on the same petition?

Means-Test Public Benefits

What are public benefits?

Can the visa applicant use government assistance or public benefits?

What assistance programs are not considered means-tested public benefit programs?

Death of Sponsor

If the sponsor dies after the principal applicant has immigrated to the United States but before other qualified family members have immigrated, can another sponsor be named?

Expiration of the I-864

Will the I-864 I submitted expire if my relative's interview is delayed for any reason?

 

 

What is NVC's role?

NVC reviews submitted Affidavit of Support forms for completeness. If a form is not complete, NVC will send a notification in CEAC explaining what is wrong and asking you to correct and re-submit the form to NVC. When NVC accepts a corrected Form I-864, I-864EZ or I-864A along with the supporting financial evidence, NVC transfers the form and application to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will apply for a visa.

Where do I find instructions?

The Affidavit of Support forms have step-by-step instructions for completion by the financial sponsor or joint sponsor. The instructions explain which forms are required and how to properly complete them. It is important to carefully follow the instructions included with each form. In addition to this guidance, online tips are available for completing all of these forms: the I-864, I-864A and I-864EZ.

Please visit https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/affidavit-support for complete instructions.

We recommend completing Affidavit of Support forms on a computer or typewriter, with answers typed in CAPITAL letters. After the form is completed, upload, and submit the signed form to NVC via CEAC along with the sponsor’s supporting financial evidence. Remember you must submit all pages of the Form I-864 even if they are blank.

Where can I get more information?

If you need more information on the I-864 Affidavit of Support, please see 9 FAM 504.4-3, 9 FAM 302.8, and Sections 212(a)(4) and 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The complete FAM and INA are available by visiting FOIA on the Department of State website. Also see https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/affidavit-support.

How does the sponsor get the forms and get started?

The petitioner and any other financial sponsors can download the forms at www.uscis.gov, and can use the chart on ”Step 4: Affidavit of Support” page to learn which forms are required.

Notice: In order to download forms, you must have a recent version of Adobe Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have Adobe Reader, please visit http://www.adobe.com. There is no charge to download Adobe Reader. You may receive a “file corrupted” error message if you are using an older version of Adobe Reader.

Who signs the forms and where are they submitted?

The petitioner/financial sponsor must complete and sign the appropriate Affidavit of Support form. Incomplete forms, including those missing pages, will not be accepted. The completed forms and supporting documents must be submitted in CEAC to NVC with the visa applicant’s civil documents.

How do I calculate my household size?

The Form I-864 asks for the financial sponsor’s household size. When calculating their household size, sponsors must include:

•             Their spouse,

•             Any 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,

•             The principal visa applicant,

•             Any derivative applicants who plan to immigrate within six months, and

•             Any other people in the United States whom the sponsor is supporting on a different Form I-864.

A sponsor does not have to include people on other I-864s who have not yet immigrated to the United States.

Who can be a Financial Sponsor?

A financial sponsor, including a petitioner, must be at least 18 years old and either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The sponsor must also have a domicile (residence) in the United States.

What are Poverty Guidelines?

Petitioners must meet a minimum income level, called the Federal Poverty Guidelines, in order to financially sponsor a visa applicant. The Poverty Guidelines in effect on the filing date of an Affidavit of Support are used to determine whether the income requirement is met. You can find these guidelines on USCIS’s website.

What happens if the petitioner doesn't have enough income?

Petitioners who cannot meet this level 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. Remember: Even if a petitioner finds a joint sponsor or uses the income of a household member to financially sponsor a visa applicant, that petitioner must still submit an Affidavit of Support.

Is a sufficient Form I-864 the only consideration for meeting any public charge issues at the time of the visa interview?

No, consular officers also looks at other public charge factors affecting the financial situation of both the financial sponsor(s) and the applicant. Age, health, education, skills, financial resources and family status of the applicant and the sponsor are factors. Consular officers will verify to the extent possible that applicants have adequate financial support to prevent them becoming a public charge in the United States. Public charge means that someone is primarily dependent on the U.S. government for subsistence.

If the poverty guidelines change between the time the petitioner signed the Affidavit of Support and the issuance of an immigrant visa, must the petitioner/sponsor and joint sponsor, if required, submit a new Form I-864?

No, the Form I-864 remains valid indefinitely unless evidence of failure to meet the poverty guidelines in effect on the date of I-864 filing arises. The consular officer will determine whether the income claimed by the sponsor and documented with financial evidence meets the poverty guidelines in effect at the time the I-864 was filed. If the income claimed does not meet the poverty guidelines, then the consular officer may request that the sponsor submit current year income information.

Can a credible offer of employment for the visa applicant replace or supplement an insufficient Affidavit of Support?

No, the law does not recognize offers of employment in place of the Form I-864. A job offer may show ability of the applicant to overcome ineligibility as a public charge, but does not meet any I-864 requirement.

How can a sponsor use assets to meet the minimum Federal Poverty Guidelines?

If a sponsor's income does not meet the minimum Federal Poverty Guidelines, he or she can submit the value of assets to make up the difference unless the sponsor is submitting a Form I-864EZ. When looking at income levels, the consular officer will look at the sponsor's employment income first. Personal assets and/or the income and assets of household members who have signed an I-864A are totaled next. If the sponsor is using assets to meet the minimum Federal Poverty Guidelines, they must upload a scanned copy of documentation of those assets into CEAC.

What cash value of assets is needed?

The total net value of assets, less liens and liabilities against them, must equal five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125% of the poverty level for the household size.

Sponsors of spouses and children of U.S. citizens must only prove assets valued at three times the difference between the poverty guidelines and actual household income.

Sponsors of orphans who will acquire citizenship after admission to the United States must only prove assets equal to the difference between the poverty guidelines and actual household income.

What can be used as assets?

Financial sponsors can only include assets that are convertible into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the sponsor and his/her family. Examples of assets easily convertible to cash are savings, stocks, bonds and property. 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.

Can the immigrant visa applicant count assets that he or she owns that are outside the United States, such as real estate or personal property?

Yes, under the following conditions:

•             The assets must be convertible to cash within 12 months.

•             The applicant must show that the assets can be removed from the country where they are located. Many countries have limits on cash or liquid assets that can removed from the country.

•             The net value of assets must be at least five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty guideline for the household size.

The visa applicant needs to file a Form I-864A to have his or her assets included in the minimum income level calculations.

Can free housing be counted as income?

Yes, financial sponsors receiving housing and other benefits in place of salary may count those benefits as income. The sponsor may count both taxable and non-taxable income (such as housing allowance). The sponsor must prove the nature and amount of non-taxable income. Evidence of such income can be a Form W-2 (such as Box 13 for military allowances) or Form 1099.

What does domicile mean?

Domicile is the place where a sponsor has his or her principal “residence” with the intention to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future.  To qualify as a financial sponsor, a petitioner must be domiciled in any of the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States.  A lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsor also must maintain his or her LPR status.

A sponsor who is not currently living in the United States may meet the domicile requirement if he or she can submit evidence to establish that any of the following conditions apply:

•             The sponsor is employed by certain organizations as defined below.

•             The sponsor is living abroad temporarily and has maintained his or her domicile in the United States.

•             The sponsor intends in good faith to establish his or her domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission to the United States.

If not submitted to NVC along with the Affidavit of Support form, the petitioner will need to provide the visa applicant with evidence of his or her domicile. The visa applicant will need to bring that evidence to the visa interview for the consular officer to review.

Can a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) petitioner who is not domiciled (living) in the United States be a financial sponsor?

No, if a petitioner cannot satisfy the domicile requirement, the petitioner fails to qualify as a sponsor for the purposes of submitting Form I-864.

If the petitioner does not have a domicile in the United States, can a joint sponsor file an I-864?

No, the petitioner must meet all the requirements to be a sponsor (age, domicile and citizenship), except those related to income, before there can be a joint sponsor.

What kinds of employment abroad can be counted as U.S. domicile?

A U.S. citizen who is living abroad temporarily is considered to be domiciled in the United States if the citizen is employed by certain organizations, including:

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad with the U.S. government.

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a U.S. institution of research recognized by the Attorney General.

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a U.S. firm or corporation or its subsidiary engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce with the United States.

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a public international organization in which the United States participates by treaty or statute.

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a religious denomination/group having a genuine organization within the United States.

•             Employment temporarily stationed abroad as a missionary by a religious denomination/group or by an interdenominational mission organization within the United States.

Can a sponsor maintain U.S. domicile while living abroad temporarily?

Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis. "Temporary" may cover an extended period of residence abroad. The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:

•             He/she departed the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time,

•             He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and

•             He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.

Examples of proof that a sponsor’s trip abroad is temporary and that he or she has maintained a domicile in the United States may include:

•             A voting record in the United States

•             Records of paying U.S. state or local taxes

•             Having property in the United States

•             Maintaining bank or investment accounts in the United States

•             Having a permanent mailing address in the United States

•             Other proof such as evidence that the sponsor is a student studying abroad or that a foreign government has authorized a temporary stay

How can a financial petitioner establish a domicile?

A petitioner who is unable to demonstrate that he or she is domiciled in the United States who wishes to qualify as a sponsor must demonstrate that:

•             He or she has either already taken up physical residence in the United States; or

•             He or she has taken concrete steps to establish a domicile in the United States and will do so concurrently with the applicant no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission.

The sponsor does not have to precede the applicant to the United States but, if he or she does not do so, he or she must arrive in the United States concurrently with the applicant.  Evidence that the sponsor has established a domicile in the United States and is either physically residing there or intends to do so before or concurrently with the applicant may include the following:

•             Opening a bank account

•             Transferring funds to the United States

•             Making investments in the United States

•             Seeking employment in the United States

•             Secure a residence in the United States

•             Register children in U.S. schools

•             Applying for a Social Security number

•             Voting in local, State, or Federal elections

Do family members following to join the principal applicant need separate Affidavits of Support and supporting documents?

Family members who immigrate later (follow-to-join) must resubmit a scanned copy of the principal applicant's I-864 and supporting documents.

What do family members need if they have separate visa petitions?

Each family member with a separate visa petition must submit a signed Form I-864 with supporting documents from the petitioner/sponsor and Form I-864As with supporting documents from the joint sponsor(s) if applicable.

Is one joint sponsor allowed to sponsor only some of the applicants while the other applicants are sponsored by another joint sponsor on the same petition?

Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Two joint sponsors can be used per family unit applying to immigrate under the same petition. If two joint sponsors are used, each joint sponsor is responsible only for the intending immigrant(s) listed on the joint sponsor’s Form I-864. Every joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement, citizenship, residence and age requirements.

What are public benefits?

Federal means-tested public benefits are the following:

•             Food stamps

•             Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

•             Medicaid

•             Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

•             State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Can the visa applicant use government assistance or public benefits?

If the sponsored immigrant uses federal means-tested public benefits, the financial sponsor must repay the cost of the benefits.

What assistance programs are not considered means-tested public benefit programs?

The following types of assistance are not considered means-tested public benefits and do not have to be repaid:

•             Emergency Medicaid

•             School lunches

•             Immunizations and treatment for communicable diseases

•             Student assistance to attend colleges and institutions of higher learning

•             Some kinds of foster care or adoption assistance

•             Job-training programs

•             Head Start

•             Short-term, non-cash emergency relief

If the sponsor dies after the principal applicant has immigrated to the United States but before other qualified family members have immigrated, can another sponsor be named?

Yes, if the petitioner or primary sponsor dies before all qualified family members have immigrated, a new sponsor may submit a Form I-864 to become the primary sponsor regardless of the status of the deceased petitioner's estate.

Will the I-864 I submitted expire if my relative's interview is delayed for any reason?

No, the validity of the Form I-864, I-864 EZ, or I-864A is considered indefinite beginning from the date the sponsor signs it.