Affidavits of Support for U.S. Immigration: Ten Things

Many intending immigrants will need an affidavit of support filed on their behalf. Here's an introductory list of important issues, and links to in-depth articles.

by  Lawrence Gruner, California Attorney

An applicant for a United States Visa may need a "sponsor" in the U.S. to ensure that they do not become dependent financially on the U.S. Government. The sponsor must submit an affidavit of support, which is a contract stating that the applicant will have adequate means of financial support while in the U.S. Here are ten things about the affidavits of support.

1. The I-864 and I-134 are the two main forms utilized.

2. The I-864 is used for aliens seeking admission or permanent residence as a family based immigrant or in certain employment based situations.

3. The I-134 form is used for fiancé visas and when offering support to an alien attempting to obtain a visitor’s visa to the USA.

4. The sponsor is liable if the immigrant receives certain benefits. If you file an affidavit of support for someone who becomes a "Public Charge", the agency providing assistance to the alien may be able to sue you to recover the money that they gave to the alien (though that is not likely to happen).

If you file an I-864 and an intending immigrant becomes a permanent resident in the United States based on a Form I-864 that you have signed, then until your obligations under the Form I-864 terminate, your income and assets may be considered ("deemed") to be available to that person, in determining whether he or she is eligible for certain Federal means-tested public benefits and also for State or local means-tested public benefits, if the State or local government's rules provide for consideration ("deeming") of your income and assets as available to the person.

This provision does not apply to public benefits specified in section 403(c) of the Welfare Reform Act such as, but not limited to, emergency Medicaid, short-term, non-cash emergency relief; services provided under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts; immunizations and testing and treatment for communicable diseases; and means-tested programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

5. There is no fee for filing an I-134 form or I-864 for someone in the United States. There is an $120 dollar fee for filing an affidavit of support for someone migrating to the United States who presently resides in another country.

6. You can use a joint financial sponsor. The joint financial sponsor has to file a separate I-864 or I-134 form. The joint sponsor has to be a United States Citizen or Green Card holder. The joint sponsor does not have to be a relative of the petitioner or beneficiary.

7. If the joint financial sponsor is a Household member (family member that you reside with) they file an I-864a form that is signed by both sponsors.

8. Each immigrant needs their own I-864. One form I-134 can be used for an entire family.

9. Divorce does not end your liability under an I-864. You are liable until the person that you sponsored works for 40 quarters in the United States or becomes a citizen.

10. In the rare case that someone has worked 40 Quarters in the United States prior to being sponsored, that person does not need an affidavit of support to be filed on their behalf. A child who will become an automatic citizen upon entry to the US is also exempt, as are self-petitioning widows and abused spouses. These people file an I-864W form.

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