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What is an Affidavit of Support? US Immigration

An Affidavit of Support is a legally binding document wherein a sponsor accepts financial responsibility for an immigrant. This document is primarily used in the context of family-based and employment-based immigration to the United States. Its purpose is to demonstrate to the U.S. government that the intending immigrant will have adequate financial support and will not become a public charge.

The Affidavit of Support stands as a fundamental document, essential for many visa applicants. It serves as a commitment from a sponsor to financially support an immigrant, ensuring they will not become a public charge. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the Affidavit of Support, shedding light on its purpose, requirements, significance, and implications within the context of immigration to the United States.

Key Components of the Affidavit of Support

  1. Sponsor Information: The sponsor, typically a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provides personal details such as name, address, contact information, and immigration status.
  2. Household Size: The sponsor must disclose the number of people living in their household, including dependents and individuals listed on their most recent tax return.
  3. Income and Financial Information: Sponsors must demonstrate sufficient income to support the immigrant(s) they are sponsoring. This is typically done by providing copies of recent tax returns, W-2 forms, and other financial documents.
  4. Signature and Notarization: The Affidavit of Support must be signed by the sponsor in the presence of a notary public, affirming the accuracy of the information provided.

Who Needs an Affidavit of Support?

The requirement for an Affidavit of Support varies depending on the specific immigration category and the relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant. Some common scenarios where an Affidavit of Support is required include:

  • Family-Based Immigration: Petitioning for a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Certain employment-based visas, such as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa, require an Affidavit of Support.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery: Winners of the Diversity Visa Lottery must also submit an Affidavit of Support.

Significance and Legal Obligations

Signing an Affidavit of Support is a significant commitment, as sponsors legally agree to provide financial support to the immigrant(s) they are sponsoring. This obligation remains in effect until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has earned 40 quarters of work credit in the United States, ceases to be a lawful permanent resident and departs the country, or dies.

Implications for Sponsors: Sponsors should carefully consider the financial implications of signing an Affidavit of Support. They must have sufficient income to meet the minimum income requirements set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the sponsored immigrant receives means-tested public benefits, the sponsor may be required to reimburse the government for those benefits.

Common Pitfalls and Challenges

  1. Insufficient Income: If the sponsor’s income falls below the minimum required threshold, they may need to find a joint sponsor who meets the criteria.
  2. Incomplete or Inaccurate Information: Providing incorrect information on the Affidavit of Support can lead to delays or denial of the immigration application.
  3. Changes in Circumstances: Sponsors should notify USCIS of any significant changes in their financial situation or household size.

Affidavit of Support Form

The Affidavit of Support is typically submitted using Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA.” This form is required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to become a public charge.

There are also variations of the Affidavit of Support form depending on the specific immigration category and circumstances:

  1. Form I-864EZ: This is a simplified version of Form I-864 and may be used by sponsors who meet certain criteria, including having sufficient income and meeting specific household size requirements.
  2. Form I-864A: This form, known as the “Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member,” is used when the sponsor’s income alone does not meet the required threshold, and they rely on the income of household members to meet the requirement.
  3. Form I-864W: This form is used to request an exemption from the Affidavit of Support requirement if the sponsored immigrant can demonstrate that they have earned or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work in the United States.
  4. Form I-134: While not strictly an Affidavit of Support form, Form I-134, or the “Affidavit of Support,” is used in certain nonimmigrant visa categories, such as the K-1 fiancé(e) visa and the B-2 tourist visa, to show that the visa applicant has financial support while in the United States.

It’s essential for sponsors and immigrants to carefully review the specific requirements of their immigration category and consult the most recent instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure they use the correct form and provide accurate information. Additionally, forms and requirements may change over time, so applicants should always refer to the USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date guidance.

Conclusion

The Affidavit of Support plays a crucial role in many immigration processes, serving as a guarantee of financial support for sponsored immigrants. Sponsors must understand their legal obligations and ensure they meet the necessary income requirements. By navigating the Affidavit of Support process with diligence and care, both sponsors and immigrants can move forward with their immigration journey with confidence and peace of mind.

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The content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon any information presented on this blog without seeking professional legal counsel. The opinions expressed at or through this blog are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney. Please consult with an attorney regarding your specific legal situation.

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What is an Affidavit of Support? US Immigration

An Affidavit of Support is a legally binding document wherein a sponsor accepts financial responsibility for an immigrant. This document is primarily used in the context of family-based and employment-based