I need to do an affidavit of support for my wife, but my income for the past few years was below the poverty line because I was a full time college student and didn't work. I am working now and making enough money, but will USCIS loot at my low income on my old returns and deny the case?
You only need to submit income tax returns for the past year. If your income in 2012 was sufficient and you continue to be employed, you should be fine. However, if your income was insufficient last year, the easiest route would be to have a co-sponsor who meets the requirements.
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The last income tax return is what they look at. So, you should have a joint sponsor if your income last year does not meet 125% of the poverty level for our household size. You can supplement your Affidavit of Support at the time of the adjustment interview to prove that, at that point in time, you meet the income level requirement. It will also help to include a letter from your HR to confirm your present income level.
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The safest solution is to get a co-sponsor so that even if your income is questioned, you have the co-sponsor's income. The co-sponsor can be anyone who is a US citizen or green card holder and has sufficient income. It does not need to be a family member.
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The Affidavit of Support must show verifiable sufficient ability to meet the required 125% above the poverty line. Even if you did not meet that criteria prior, you meet it now, therefore, prepare all the pay checks, pay stubs, work contract or the recent tax return to show that you meet the criteria. If that will not be deemed sufficient, you may always cure that situation by using an eligible co-Sponsor.
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The relevant time period regarding sufficiency of income is the present. If you can show that your current income qualifies you under the I-864P, you technically qualify. In practice, the adjudicating officer might hassle you if your most recent tax return shows insufficient income. If you can find a joint sponsor (remember that it does not need to be a relative), that will likely eliminate any hassles or requests for evidence.
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You are probably going to need a co-sponsor. Speak with an immigration attorney that can review your finances and help you determine if you will need one.
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I agree with my colleagues, and I would be happy to assist you further if you are looking for an immigration attorney in San Francisco. What matters legally is your current income (which you can prove with your current pay stubs), even last years tax returns is not determinative. (Though CIS will surely look at it). Good luck with your situation.
Otis C. Landerholm, Esq.
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