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Understanding Affidavits of Support

Today’s blog is all about Affidavits of Support.

Most family-based and some employment-based applications with the USCIS require this form. It proves that the applicant or petitioner has adequate means of financial support and, thus, is not likely to become a public charge or rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

The person signing this document is called a “financial sponsor”. Legally speaking, an affidavit of support is considered an enforceable contract, and the sponsor's responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen, or is credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).

Requirements to be a financial sponsor

In order to sponsor a family member or employee seeking an adjustment of status, the financial sponsor must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen (or in some cases a U.S. green card holder), at least 18 years old, and must be living in the United States.

  • Must have an annual income that is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (or 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child)

  • Must provide a copy of your most recent Federal Income Tax Return, including W-2s for the most recent tax year or a statement and/or evidence describing why you were not required to file

If the financial sponsor’s income is not enough, he or she may also use assets to meet the requirements above. Assets may include cash, stocks and bonds, and real property

Another option is to have a household member or a non-family member help meet the income or asset requirements, or even the immediate relative seeking the green card (also called the “beneficiary”) use his or her own income to meet the financial requirements. This is only possible if the relative can prove that this income will continue from the same source after the green card is obtained.

Note that the more people there are in your household, the higher your income will need to be to meet the requirements necessary for an affidavit of support. The financial sponsor must also report other immigrants sponsored in the past if applicable.

What are the obligations of a financial sponsor?

As mentioned above, the affidavit of support is considered a contract between the financial sponsor and the U.S. government. That means that the government has the right to recover from the financial sponsor certain public benefits used by the applicant after receiving his or her green card. Some of these public benefits are:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

  • Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash benefit programs for income maintenance

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps)

  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program

  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance

  • Public Housing (Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq.)

  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions).

The following are benefits not considered by the USCIS:

  • Emergency medical assistance

  • Disaster relief

  • National school lunch programs

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • Subsidies for foster care and adoption

  • Government-subsidized student and mortgage loans

  • Energy assistance

  • Food pantries and homeless shelters

  • Head Start

When do the obligations of a financial sponsor end?

The obligations of a financial sponsor arising out of an affidavit of support end when:

  • The applicant or beneficiary dies (or either spouse dies in case of adjustment of status for a spouse);

  • The green-card holder becomes a U.S. citizen;

  • The green-card holder has legally worked for 40 quarters in the United States; and

  • The green-card holder moves out of the United States permanently.

How many affidavits of support are there and how do I know which form to fill out?

In a nutshell, here are the four types of affidavits of support and when to use them:

  1. Form I-864: use this form when sponsoring when immigrant or immediate relative

  2. Form I-864A: this is called a “Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member” and it is used when the petitioner needs to include the income of a household member to meet the necessary requirements

  3. Form I-864EZ: this form is used when the financial sponsor is sponsoring only one person or relative and does not need a joint sponsor

  4. Form I-864W: use this form when the applicant or beneficiary is exempt from the affidavit of support requirements.

Always make sure you fill out the most current version of a form as available on the USCIS website. In addition, make sure to sign and date all forms and answer all questions truthfully.

Whether you are sponsoring an immediate relative or another family member, an affidavit of support with incorrect or missing information may delay the results of your case or even result in a denial by the USCIS. If you have any questions concerning affidavit of support contact us today at (385) 334-4030 or send an email to to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.


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