Navigating the I-864 Affidavit of Support
The I-864 is a binding contract between the sponsor who fills out the form and the U.S. government.
The purpose of this form is to hold sponsors accountable to their promise to remain financially responsible for the immigrant. The USCIS requires immigrants to have a financial sponsor so that they do not become a “public charge.” In other word, sponsors are bound to their I-864 forms to ensure the immigrant does not need to resort to government-funded aid.
This form is sometimes confused with the I-134, which is also an Affidavit of Support. The I-134 is used for nonimmigrant visas where the sponsor only needs to meet the 100% mark on the poverty guidelines.
The I-864 is a family-based (and sometimes employment-based) Affidavit of Support. If you are married to the beneficiary immigrant or they are in your immediate family, you need to use the I-864 form. The biggest difference between the two forms is that the sponsor must meet the 125% mark on the poverty guidelines when filing an I-864, family-based visa application Affidavit of Support.
As with all other necessary immigration forms, the I-864 is available on USCIS.gov. The form is broken down into 9 parts. The following lists should help you prepare for filing your I-864.
The first few parts of the I-864 require you, the petitioner, to provide basic information about yourself and the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring and the type of sponsorship you want to initiate.
Before you begin these parts, make sure you know the following information, or have the documents that have this information ready:
- Current legal name of the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring. The USCIS is only concerned with the current legal name, do not worry about previously used names for any name inquiry on the I-864.
- Current mailing addresses for the immigrant(s) in their respective countries as well as your own mailing address
- If there are any joint-sponsors. The USCIS needs to know if the beneficiary immigrant(s) have more than one sponsor
- Who the principal immigrant is. If you are sponsoring more than one immigrant, the principal immigrant is usually the parent of the children immigrants.
- Alien registration numbers (A-numbers) if the immigrant(s) have an A-number.
The remainder of the I-864 focuses on the finances of the sponsor and beneficiary. Some of the information you will need to fill out these parts may require some preparation work.
Before you begin these parts, make sure you have your most recent tax forms and bank statements close by. You’ll need to provide some of the following information to USCIS:
- Your current annual income
- Your household income, if you are relying on a household member’s income to meet poverty guidelines requirement. (The household member should also file an I-864A)
- Adjusted gross income as reported on IRS tax returns for the previous 3 years.
- The balance of your checking and/or savings accounts.
- The net cash-value of any of your investments (real-estate, stocks, or bonds).
- The balance of the immigrant’s bank account(s).
- The net cash-value of any of the immigrant’s investments.
Often sponsors will attach an additional declaration of support to their I-864 just to make their application even stronger. This can be a handwritten and signed document simply declaring that the sponsor will financially support the beneficiary.
Tax documents are another great way to supplement the I-864. Your most recent federal tax return is required in conjunction with the I-864, but it is helpful to provide the USCIS with several years’ tax data.
Tax transcripts can show the USCIS a more detailed view of your financial position. Tax transcripts can be requested from the IRS (and usually take several weeks to process) or they can be downloaded from the IRS website. (see: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript)
Bank statements can also help strengthen a sponsor’s financial credibility with the USCIS. Sponsors often attach current bank statements for checking and savings accounts to the I-864.
Copies of paycheck stubs or direct deposit slips can also be helpful. If you are self-employed, you can attach a copy of your business license or IRS form 1099 for current and previous years.
Some sponsors take the extra step to get their forms notarized. The form is already signed under penalty of perjury, but the extra certification of a notary public won’t hurt.
Before you mail the I-864 (or any USCIS form), make a copy! Packages frequently get lost in the mail and in the event that your forms do not reach the USCIS, you do not want to have to complete the forms all over again!
Read over and double-check that all the information on the form is true and accurate. Remember, you are signing this under penalty of perjury!
Re-read the instructions that accompany the form to make sure you have not missed any essential steps. The instructions can be found at uscis.gov/i-864.
Ensure the I-864 has been stapled in page order, with any accompanying documents attached at the end of the form.
Once you have filled out the form accurately and truthfully, attached any supplementing documents and made copies of every page, you are ready to send the form to the USCIS.