The Affidavit of Support: More than just a form
What Is the Affidavit of Support?Any person seeking permanent residence in the U.S. must provide proof that he/she will not become a public charge (dependent on the government for support) within the first 5 years of becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (getting a green card). The Affidavit of Support is required in nearly all family-based cases. Form I-864 and the accompanying instructions set forth the required information and documents to be submitted by the Petitioner in support of an immigrant visa or adjustment of status of the intending immigrant(s). Special rules apply to children who will become citizens of the U.S. automatically upon entry to the U.S.
Additional documents 1: Proof of IncomeIn addition to form I-864, proof of income must be submitted that meets the requirements. Proof of income consists of the following:
1. Copy of the most recent tax return filed, including all schedules and all W-2 forms
2. A letter of employment from the Petitioner's employer stating date of hire, job title, full/part-time status and the wage received.
3. Copies of 3 recent paystubs.
If the Petitioner is self-employed, he/she will need the following:
1. Copy of most recent tax return filed with all 1099 forms (if applicable), or other documents showing the source of income for the business(receipts, bank statements)
2. Copy of the Business Certificate or other proof of the Business' existence, such as a Certificate of Incorporation
3. Recent financial statement , balance sheet, and/or cash flow statement.
Additional documents 2: Proof of AssetsIf the Petitioner does not have sufficient income to meet the requirements set forth on form I-864P for the household, he/she may be able to meet the requirements with proof of the value of various assets, including real property, savings, investment and/or retirement accounts, and other personal property. The value of the assets must equal 3x the difference between the Petitioner's income and the amount required if the Beneficiary is an "immediate relative", or 5x if not. For example, if the required income is $28,000 per year, and Petitioner's income is only $20,000 per year, the Petitioner must have proof of assets worth at least $24,000 (3 x $8,000) to meet the requirement if the Beneficiary is an "immediate relative", or $40,000 (5 x $8,000) if the Beneficiary is not. Real estate values must show the "net" worth, that is, the actual market value after any liens or mortgages have been subtracted.
What if the Petitioner's income is not enough? Get a Joint SponsorA Joint Sponsor is needed if the Petitioner does not have enough income or assets to meet the required 125% (or 100% for active members of the military) of the Poverty Guidelines contained in form I-864P. A Joint Sponsor may be anyone who is over the age of 18, is a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), and who is "domiciled" (lives permanently) in the United States. The joint sponsor must meet the income requirements for the intending immigrant and the number of members of the joint sponsor's household; must file form I-864; provide the documentation listed above (Proof of Income); provide proof of U.S citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status (Copy of green card); and proof that they live in the U.S. (utility bills, leases, deeds to real property, property tax bills). The same rules apply for self-employed Joint Sponsors, as well as using proof of assets to meet the income requirements.
Note about the overseas consular interview and the Affidavit of SupportIf the foreign national is processing his or her immigrant visa through the National VIsa Center and a US Embassy or Consulate abroad, be sure to send updated/current financial information with the applicant to the consular interview. The reason for this is because often many months can pass from the time the Affidavit of Support is filed with the National Visa Center to the time of the consular interview. Most, if not all, consular officers will want to see proof of current employment and financial status of the Petitioner and Joint Sponsor(if you are required to have a joint sponsor).