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Affidavits Of Support

by Gregory Siskind

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?

A sponsor or joint sponsor must be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, 18 years of age, and domiciled in the US or one of its territories. The sponsor must also show sufficient income.


What is the income requirement for a person who wishes to sponsor an intended immigrant or nonimmigrant?

The key to the Affidavit of Support is the annual poverty level, determined by the Department of Health and Human Services.  Sponsors must earn at least 125% of the poverty level, except for sponsors who are on military active duty, who must be able to show income equal only to the poverty level.  The poverty level varies with the number of members of a household. For the purposes of Form I-864, the household includes the sponsor and all persons related to the sponsor by birth, marriage or adoption living in the sponsorís household.  The sponsorís income must be above the poverty level for the size of the household plus all sponsored immigrants.


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

Size of family                      Poverty Guideline          125%

1                  $9,570                    $11,962
2                  $12,830                  $16,038
3                  $16,090                  $20,113
4                  $19.350                  $24,188
5                  $22,610                  $28,263
6                  $25,870                  $32,338
7                  $29,130                  $36,413
8                  $32,390                  $40,488

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                                    
2    $14,760                                $18,450                                    
3    $18,510                                $23,138                 
4    $22,260                                $27,825       
5    $26,010                                $32,513       
6    $29,760                                $37,200                 
7    $33,510                                $41,888                                              
8    $37,260                                $46,575                 

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?

In the event the primary sponsor does not earn enough, co-sponsor(s) may join the obligation for the intended immigrant.  The joint sponsor submits a separate Form I-864A. 


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.

Are there any other obligations for a sponsor?


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.


About The Author

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

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.