Affidavits Of Support
Why does the USCIS require affidavits of support?
For many applicants seeking entry to the United States, the government will require proof that the alien will have adequate financial resources to support themselves while in America. This is the case for certain non-immigrant visas, particularly those where the applicant is not permitted to work while in the US such as visitor visas. Form I-134 Affidavit of Support is often used in this situation. People seeking to immigrate to the US must demonstrate that they will not become a ďpublic chargeĒ after entering the US. A provision of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 created a new Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, which is much more extensive than the I-134*, and creates a legal obligation on behalf of the person who signs it. This legal obligation means that the sponsored immigrants, the federal government or any state government can sue the sponsor if the sponsor fails to support the immigrant.
Do family-based or employment- based immigrant petitions require an affidavit of support?
Affidavits of Support are required in all family based immigration cases, and in employment based cases where the alien is related to the owner of the petitioning company. In the family based immigration case, the family member petitioning must be the sponsor for the intended immigrant.
Certain immigrant cases are not subject to the public charge as a ground of inadmissibility and do not require Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.**
Who can be a sponsor?
What is the income requirement for a person who wishes to sponsor an intended immigrant or nonimmigrant?
In meeting the poverty guideline, sponsors can rely on all sources of income. In the event that income is not sufficient to meet the income level required, the sponsor can rely on assets. It must be possible to use the assets for the support of the immigrant, and the assets must be convertible into cash within one year.
Year 2005 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
For family units with more than 8 members, add $4,075 for each additional member.
Year 2005 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
Size of family Poverty Guideline 125%
1 $11,950 $14,937
2 $16,030 $20,038
3 $20,110 $25,138
4 $24,190 $30,238
5 $28,270 $35,338
6 $32,350 $40,438
7 $36,430 $45,538
8 $40,510 $50,638
For family units with more than 8 members, add $5,100 for each additional member.
Year 2005 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
Size of family Poverty Guideline 125%
1 $11,010 $13,762
For family units with more than 8 members, add $4,688 for each additional member.
Will the USCIS consider assets for determining an individual's ability to sponsor an intended immigrant or non-immigrant?
Yes. You may include your assets, the assets of household members or dependents. You may also include the assets of the immigrant or non-immigrant you intent to sponsor. If you wish to show assets to meet the income requirements, you must provide evidence of those assets and that those assets equal at least five times the difference between your household income and minimum income requirement. The evidence must verify the location, ownership and values of the assets. If you include the assets of a household member, other than the intended immigrant or non-immigrant, that household member must complete the I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
What if I want to sponsor an intended immigrant or nonimmigrant, but I cannot meet the income requirement?
How long will a sponsor be legally responsible for the financial resources of the sponsored alien?
The co-sponsor becomes legally obligated to provide the same support as the primary sponsor, and the obligation does not end for all sponsors until the immigrantís naturalization, or the sponsored immigrant can be credited with 40 quarters of work, or leaves the US permanently, or dies. Divorce does not terminate the obligation.
In addition to all of the other obligations, sponsors and co-sponsors must keep the USCIS informed of all changes of addresses. Fines can be imposed for failing to do so.
*The following cases require the Form I-134: derivative family members in employment based immigrant cases where relative ownership is not involved or has 5% interest in petitioning company and is not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, self-petitioning widows, self-petitioning spouses and children, diversity lottery cases, applicants under the Cuban Adjustment Act, returning permanent residents, and applicants filing for permanent residence due to cancellation of removal or suspension of deportation.
**The types of immigrant cases not subject to the requirements of the I-864 Affidavit of Support as follows: Refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, and applicants who qualify for NACARA benefits.
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.