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Affidavit of Support (Form 1-864)

Affidavit of Support General Information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The I-864 Affidavit of Support is a contract between a sponsor and the applicant that is required for some immigrant visas. In this contract the sponsor agrees to provide financial support for the applicant until he/she becomes an American citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually ten years). The sponsor must show that he/she has income equal to or greater than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for his/her household size. The legal basis for the I-864 Affidavit of Support is Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Who needs an I-864 Affidavit of Support?

The following applicants for immigrant visas need an I-864:

  • Most applicants in family-based immigrant visa categories
  • Orphans to be adopted in the United States (IR-4)
  • Applicants for employment-based immigrant visas whose relative filed the immigrant visa petition or whose relative has a five percent or greater ownership interest in the business that filed the petition

Which applicants for family-based immigrant visas do not need the I-864 Affidavit of Support?

The following applicants for family immigrant visas do not need an I-864.

  • Biological (natural-born) children of American citizens (IR-2 immigrant visa category) who will enter the United States when under the age of eighteen and will automatically acquire American citizenship
  • Orphans adopted by an American citizen abroad (IR-3 immigrant visa category) with a full and final adoption
  • Self-petitioning widows or widowers of American citizens (IW immigrant visa category)
  • Immigrants who have already worked or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work as defined in title II of the Social Security Act.

The applicants must show, however, that they will not become a public charge. A consular officer may ask for an I-134 Affidavit of Support and supporting documents.

Do applicants for all nonimmigrant and immigrant visas use the I-864 Affidavit of Support when they want to show evidence of financial support?

No. Section 213A of the INA limits the I-864 to most family-based and certain employment-based immigrant visa applicants.

Do applicants who are applying for an immigrant visa in a visa category that does not require the I-864 Affidavit of Support, such as the diversity immigrant visa, need to meet the public charge provisions of Section 213A of the INA?

No. Consular officers will review immigrant visa applicants whose visa categories do not require the I-864 under the public charge guidelines in Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The sponsor will need to show income at 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for household size, not the 125 percent requifred under Section 213A of the INA.

Should K-1 fiancé(e) visa applicants use the I-864 or the I-134?

Since fiancé(e)s are nonimmigrant visa applicants, they should use the I-134. They will need to submit an I-864 to BCIS when they adjust status to conditional immigrant in the United States after they are married.

Should diversity (DV) or returning resident (SB) applicants use the I-864 or the I-134?

They should use the I-134. The I-864 can only be used in the specified categories (most family-based and certain employment-based cases). All other applicants must use the I-134 if an affidavit of support is needed.

Do the same income requirements apply to all immigrant visa applicants even if they use the I-134?

No. The 125 percent minimum income requirement, the need for the last three years income tax returns and other requirements only apply when an I-864 is needed. Applicants using the I-134 will need to show that their sponsor's income is 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines as required under Section 212(a)(4) of the INA.
Review of the I-864 for Completeness - National Visa Center Role

How is the I-864 processing fee paid?

The National Visa Center (NVC) processes immigrant visa petitions after the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) approves them. When the immigrant visa case is current or about to become current, the NVC will send a bill to the petitioner asking him/her to pay an I-864 processing fee. The NVC will send the bill with an envelope with a bank address and instructions on where and how to pay the bill.

When does the NVC send the I-864?

After the bill has been paid, the NVC will send the I-864 Affidavit of Support to the petitioner for completion. The petitioner/sponsor will complete and sign the I-864 before a notary public. After the I-864 is complete, the petitioner should send it to the NVC using the envelope provided.

What does the NVC do with the I-864?

The NVC will review the I-864 for technical completeness and correctness. If the I-864 is not technically correct or complete, the NVC will ask the petitioner/sponsor to correct and complete the I-864 a second time. It will explain what is lacking in the previously submitted I-864.

When a corrected I-864 is returned to the NVC, it will be sent to the embassy or consulate where the applicant will apply for a visa. The NVC will send it with the immigrant visa petition.

Does the NVC review I-864 Affidavits of Support for petitions filed at a post (embassy or consulate) abroad?

No. The NVC only reviews I-864 Affidavits of Support for immigrant visa petitions filed at an Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS) office in the United States. If the petition was filed at a post abroad or the petition was already at post when the NVC began to review I-864 Affidavits of Support, it will not review the I-864.

Unless the NVC communicates with you about the I-864, it is not a part of the I-864 review process.

If the consular officer says the applicant needs a joint sponsor, does the joint sponsor send the I-864 to the NVC for review?

No. If the post asks for a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor should send the completed I-864 directly to the applicant. The applicant will submit the I-864 to the consular officer for review.

Household Size

What does household size mean on the I-864?

Household size means all those living in the sponsor's house or dependent on the sponsor for support. The household size is:

  • The sponsor
  • All relatives by blood, marriage or adoption living in the sponsor's household
  • All dependents listed on the most recent federal tax forms (IRS 1040), whether or not they live in the sponsor's household.
  • Any individuals for whom the sponsor has already signed an I-864 and for whom the contractual obligation still exists
  • The applicant (beneficiary) for the visa
  • The applicant's (beneficiary's) accompanying dependents  

Can a petitioner (sponsor) with limited financial resources sponsor only the principal applicant and not his/her spouse and eligible children?

Yes. The petitioner (sponsor) can limit the number of sponsored immigrants listed on the Affidavit of Support to the number of people who actually intend to immigrate at that time. The principal applicant must be one of the sponsored immigrants.

The petitioner can reduce his/her household size by limiting the number of applicants that he/she will sponsor. This gives him/her a lower minimum income requirement. The petitioner would be able to file another Affidavit of Support for the principal applicant's
dependents at a later time when the petitioner and the principal applicant make more money.

When the petitioner files a new Affidavit of Support for the remaining eligible family members, the principal applicant and any of his/her family members who may have already immigrated would be included in the household size for that I-864.

How do you count children of a divorced couple who reside with one parent part of the time and with the other parent the other part?

A divorced parent's dependent children are members of his or her household, even if they live part of the time with the former spouse. A parent almost always has a legal obligation to support his or her children. Although only one of the parents may be legally entitled to claim the child as a dependent on tax returns (1040), the child must be considered as part of both parents' households for purposes of the Affidavit of Support, unless a parent can show that he or she no longer has a legal obligation to support the child.

Requirements for the Sponsor

What are the requirements for being a sponsor?

A sponsor must be at least 18 years old and either an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The sponsor must also have a domicile (residence) in the United States.

Domicile

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

No. The law requires that sponsors be domiciled (live) in any of the States of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States.

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

No. Under the law, a joint sponsor cannot sponsor an immigrant when the petitioner does not have a domicile in the United States. The petitioner must first meet all the requirements for being a sponsor (age, domicile and citizenship) except those related to income before there can be a joint sponsor.

How is domicile determined?

Domicile is a complex issue and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. To qualify as a sponsor, a petitioner who is residing abroad must have a principal residence in the U.S. and intend to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future. Lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsors must show they are maintaining their LPR status.

Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis, usually for work or family considerations. "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 left 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

An American citizen or LPR spouse or dependent who has maintained a residence in the U.S. and/or whose spouse/parent works in one of the categories listed below would also qualify as a sponsor.

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

  • Employment by the U.S. government
  • Employment by an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
  • Employment by an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce with the United States, or a subsidiary of such a firm
  • Employment with a public international organization in which the United States participates by treaty or statute
    Employment by a religious denomination/group having a genuine organization within the United States and is stationed abroad with that religious denomination
  • Employment as a missionary by a religious denomination/group or by an interdenominational mission organization within the United States and is stationed abroad with that religious denomination

There may be other circumstances in which a sponsor can show that his or her presence abroad is of a temporary nature, and the sponsor has a domicile in the United States. The sponsor must satisfy to the consular officer that he/she has not given up his/her domicile in the United States and established his/her domicile abroad.

How can a petitioner establish a domicile?

When a sponsor has clearly not maintained a domicile in the United States, he/she will need to re-establish a U.S. domicile in order for him/her to be a sponsor. The sponsor may make a number of steps to show that he/she considers the United States his/her principal place of residence. Examples of things he/she can do are given below:

  • Find a job in the United States
  • Locate a place to live in the United States
  • Register children in U.S. schools
  • Make arrangements to give up (relinquish) residence abroad
  • other evidence of a U.S. residence

If the sponsor establishes U.S. domicile, it is not necessary for the sponsor to go to the United States before the sponsored family members. However, the sponsored immigrant may not enter the United States before the sponsor returns to the United States to live. The sponsored immigrant must travel with the sponsor or after the sponsor has entered the United States.

Means Tested Public Benefits

Can the applicant use government assistance or public benefits?

If the sponsored immigrant uses federal means tested public benefits, the sponsor is responsible for repaying the cost of the benefits.

What are federal means tested public benefits?

Federal means-tested public benefits are the following:

  • Food stamps;
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Medicaid;
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and
  • State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

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; and 
  • Short-term, non-cash emergency relief

Assets

May the petitioner/sponsor count assets to meet the 125 percent minimum income requirement?

Yes. The sponsor counts his/her income first. Next he/she counts the personal assets and/or the income and assets of household members who have signed an I-864A. If, using all of those sources, the minimum income requirement is met, the affidavit would be "sufficient."

To be counted, the cash value of assets must equal five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty line for the household size.

For example, a petitioner/sponsor with a household size of four and an income of $18,000 would need assets equal to five times the difference between his/her income and the income required for a family of four at the current federal poverty guidelines level. He/she would also need to show evidence of mortgages, liens, and liabilities against the assets.

What can be used as assets?

Assets can be savings, stocks, bonds and property. They must be easily converted to cash.

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 these conditions:

  • The assets must be readily convertible to cash within 12 months
  • The applicant must show that he/she can take the money or assets out of the country where they are located. Many countries have strict regulations which limit the amount of cash or liquid assets that can be taken out of the country
  • The assets equal at least five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty line for the household size.

Can free housing be counted as income?

Yes. Sponsors who receive housing and other benefits in place of salary may count those benefits as income. The sponsor may count income that is not subject to taxation (such as housing allowance), as well as taxable income. The sponsor would have to prove the nature and amount of any income that is not included as wages or salary or other taxable income. Evidence of such income can be shown through notations on the W-2 Form (such as Box 13 for military allowances), Form 1099 or other documents that show the claimed income.

Can applicant's ongoing income be counted?

Under certain circumstances, yes. The applicant must have lived in the sponsor's household for six months before the completion of the Affidavit of Support. The applicant must show that the income will continue after he/she takes up residence in the United States.

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

No. The law does not allow for consideration of offers of employment in place of the I-864. A job offer may not be counted in reaching the 125 percent minimum income.

A job offer can be taken into consideration in determining the ability of the applicant to overcome an ineligibility on public charge grounds, but it does not meet any requirement for presenting an I-864.

What are the special provisions for members of the Armed Forces?

Active duty members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard need to meet only 100 percent of the minimum poverty guideline income requirement. Members of the Merchant Marine must meet the full 125 percent income requirement.

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

No. Even though the I-864 is a contract and the U.S. government prohibits giving immigrants most federal means-tested public benefits for at least the first five years after their arrival in the U.S., consular officers look at other public charge issues. They will look at the complete financial situation of the sponsor and the applicant. This means looking at the age, health, education, skills, financial resources and family status of the applicant and the sponsor. They will confirm to the extent possible that the applicant will have adequate financial support and is not likely to become a public charge.

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

No. As long as the I-864 was submitted to a consular officer within one year of the date it was signed and notarized, a new I-864 is not required. However, the petitioner/sponsor and the joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement based on the federal poverty guidelines in effect on the date of the visa issuance, not those in effect when the form was signed.

Completing the I-864

Who can notarize the signatures on the I-864 and I-864A?

A U.S. consular officer abroad, an immigration officer from the BCIS or a U.S. notary public can notarize signatures on the I-864 and I-864A. A consular officer will not accept I-864 affidavits of support that have been notarized by foreign notary publics.

What happens if the sponsor did not file income tax returns for the previous three years?

Immigration law requires the sponsor to submit income tax returns for the three years immediately before the visa application if the sponsor was required to file. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires Americans and lawful permanent residents who are working abroad to file income tax returns even if most or all of their overseas income is excluded from U.S. taxes.

What does the sponsor do when he/she was not required by law to file an income tax return during a given year?

If a sponsor was not required by law to file an income tax return, he/she should prepare a notarized statement. In this statement the sponsor should state that he/she was not required to file a tax return and give the related Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation. The IRS 1040 Instruction Book has information on who is not required to file income tax returns.

If the sponsor owns a business, should he/she submit individual or business tax returns?

Individual tax returns. Consular officers can only accept individual tax returns, since the individual is sponsoring the applicant, not the business.

If the sponsor does not have copies of his/her tax returns, can he/she submit a summary of the returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?

Yes.

Accompanying Family Members

Does each accompanying family member need separate documents if they are traveling with the principal applicant?

The principal applicant and accompanying family members need only one complete set of documents prepared in support of the I-864 Affidavit of Support. Each accompanying family member must have either an original or photocopy of I-864 (and I-864A if needed) for the principal applicant. Each photocopy must have an original, notarized signature. Copies may be used only for dependents whose names appear on the principal applicant's original petition. Copies of supporting documents are not required for accompanying family members applying for visas or adjustment of status together with the principal applicant.

Do following-to-join family members need separate I-864
Affidavits of Support and supporting documents?

Family members who travel later (follow-to-join) will require one complete set of the documents prepared in support of the principal applicant's I-864. Each individual applicant must present an I-864 Affidavit of Support with original, notarized signatures.

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

If family members have separate visa petitions, each family member must submit a signed and notarized I-864 from the petitioner/sponsor, the joint sponsor (if required) and I-864As as required. Each family member must also submit a complete set of supporting documents (such as tax returns, job letters and bank statements).

Can different joint sponsors submit Affidavits of Support for separate accompanying family members?

No. Each joint sponsor must meet the minimum 125 percent income requirement for the household size. The household size includes the following:

  • The sponsor;
  • All household members related by blood, marriage or adoption living in the sponsor's household;
  • All dependents claimed on the sponsor's most recent tax returns even if not living in the same house;
  • All persons for whom the sponsor has filed a different I-864 which is still in effect;
  • The principal applicant; and
  • The principal applicant's accompanying dependents.

Death of the Sponsor

If the sponsor dies after the principal applicant has immigrated to the United States but before all qualified family members who are traveling later (following to join) have immigrated, can they obtain another sponsor?

Yes. A substitute sponsor may serve as the sponsor in such circumstances. The substitute sponsor must be an American citizen or lawful permanent resident, at least eighteen years of age, domiciled (living) in the United States and having sufficient income.

The substitute sponsor must be related to the applicant in one of the following ways: spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sibling, child, son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent or grandchild.

The death of the sponsor ends any obligation to the sponsored immigrant(s), but the sponsor's estate remains liable for any requests for repayment of benefits that arose before the sponsor's death.

Expiration of the I-864

Does the I-864 ever expire?

In general, the I-864 must be submitted to the consular officer in an immigrant visa interview within one year of the sponsor's signature. If it is submitted after one year, a new I-864 will be required.

After the I-864 has been submitted to and accepted by a consular officer (in the immigrant visa interview), it does not expire. However, if the supporting documents are more than 12 months old, the consular officer will ask for new supporting documents, such as the most recent federal income tax returns (1040) and a current employment letter.

Children of American citizens

Do children of American citizens need an I-864 for an immigrant visa?

Children of American citizens (IR-2) are not required to have an I-864 in the following circumstances:

  • Under the age of 18 when they enter the United States, and
  • Natural born, biological children, and
  • Living with and in legal custody of U.S. citizen parent.

Adopted children in the IR-3 category also are not required to have an I-864 in the following circumstances:

  • Have a full and final adoption decree, and
  • Living with and in legal custody of U.S. citizen parent, and Entering the U.S. under the age of 18.

However, these children must present evidence that they will not become public charges when they enter the United States. This can be shown with documents such as recent income tax returns (1040), job letters and bank statements. The consular officer may ask for an I-134 Affidavit of Support.

Affidavit of Support Forms

Checklist

More Information on the I-864

For more information on the I-864 Affidavit of Support see 9 FAM 42.63 Procedural Notes, 9 FAM 40.41 Procedural Notes and Sections 212(a)(4) and 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The complete FAM and INA are available by clicking on FOIA on the Department of State web site.

How Do I File and Affidavit of Support for a Relative’ at http://www.uscis.gov