How to Complete USCIS Form I-864 When Sponsoring an Immigrant

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are sponsoring a family member to immigrate to the U.S. will likely need to file the I-864 Affidavit of Support form.

If you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and are sponsoring a family member to immigrate to the U.S., you will likely need to file the I-864 Affidavit of Support form. The purpose is to show that your immigrating relative will not likely become a public charge, because you will either support him or her, or reimburse any government agency from which your relative claims need-based assistance.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here are some tips for the trickier questions on USCIS Form I-864. (For an overview of when to use this form, and which version applies, see Preparing I-864 Affidavit of Support Forms.)

Part 1: Basis for Filing Affidavit of Support

Here, the main sponsor writes his or her name and checks Box "1.a" if it's purely a family immigration case. If the sponsor is an employer/family petitioner, he or she must check Box "1.b" or "1.c". Friends or non-petitioning who agree to fill in this form as joint sponsors check either Box "1.d" or "1.e".

Box "f" is for situations where the immigrant's original sponsor died after the I-130 petition was approved and the immigrant is asking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow the application to go forward for humanitarian reasons (called "reinstatement"). In this case, the immigrant must find another family member in the U.S. who is willing to serve as a substitute sponsor and meets the basic sponsorship requirements (age 18, domiciled in the U.S., and a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or national). Family members who qualify to do this include the immigrant's spouse, parent, mother- or father-in-law, brother or sister, child (if at least 18 years of age), son or daughter-in-law, sister- or brother-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, and legal guardian.

Part 2: Information About the Principal Immigrant

These are basic questions concerning the person immigrating. If the immigrant hasn't been assigned an A-Number or USCIS Online Account Number, leave these blank.

Part 3: Information About the Immigrant(s) You Are Sponsoring

Although you might be listing a spouse and children here, you don't need to name any children who were born in the United States. That's because the sponsor has no obligation to promise to support them (at least not under U.S. immigration laws, though the children will be counted elsewhere within this form to test the sponsor's overall financial capacity).

Notice that the form says "Do not include any relatives listed on a separate visa petition." This would be the case if they were immediate relatives of the petitioner, in which case each would need a separate I-130 petition and also their own Form I-864, filled out just for them, rather than a photocopy of their mother or father's form.

For example, if a U.S. citizen father petitions for his wife and stepchildren, they are all immediate relatives, will all need separate I-130 petitions, and therefore will all need separate Form I-864s.

But if a lawful permanent resident father petitions for his wife and stepchildren, the children are allowed to accompany the mother on her I-130 petition without having petitions separately filed for each of them, and they therefore won't need separate Form I-864s prepared on their behalf, so should all be listed on this one form.

Family members might not have A-numbers or USCIS online account numbers. They likely would only if they'd applied for past U.S. immigration benefits or been in removal proceedings.

Part 4: Information About You (Sponsor)

Mostly self explanatory.

Remember that the sponsor's place of residence must be in the United States in order to be eligible as a financial sponsor. If the U.S. sponsor is living overseas and doesn't want to return to the United States until the immigrant can enter as well, the sponsor must still prepare and sign this Affidavit of Support. The sponsor will also need to show an intent to live in the U.S. and a source of income there.

Part 5: Sponsor's Household Size

This section is self-explanatory. Remember not to count anyone twice!

Part 6: Sponsor's Employment and Income

The sponsor needs to fill in information about his or her employment here.

Self-employment is fine. Be aware, however, that if a self-employed sponsor has under-reported income to the IRS in the past, the earnings shown may not be sufficient to support the immigrant. In that case, the sponsor will need to file an amended tax return with the IRS and pay a penalty before the newly reported income is accepted as meeting the guidelines for sponsorship.

For the sponsor's current income, if the amount is higher than shown on the sponsor's last tax return, be sure to include supporting documentation (such as copies of pay stubs or a letter from the sponsor's employer stating the current salary). Such proof will be especially important if the raise in salary since the last tax return takes the sponsor over the Poverty Guidelines minimum.

Questions about household members are especially important for sponsors whose income is not enough by itself, but who will be using the income of members of their household to help meet the Poverty Guidelines minimum requirements. Any of these household members who is not the actual immigrant must plan to complete a separate agreement with the sponsor, using Form I-864A.

Part 7: Use of Assets to Supplement Income (Optional)

The sponsor needs to complete this section only if his or her income wasn't enough by itself to meet the Poverty Guidelines requirements. Remember to attach documents proving the assets' existence and value.

If the combination of the sponsor's household available income and assets (counted at a fraction of their value; a fifth of the income shortfall in most cases, and a third in the case of U.S. citizens' spouses and minor children) don't yet meet the Poverty Guidelines minimum, you'll still need to hand in this affidavit. But you'll definitely want to look for a joint sponsor.

Part 8: Sponsor's Contract, Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature

The sponsor must remember to enter his or her name again and sign the form.

If you run into any issues, be sure to talk to an immigration lawyer. We're not providing any legal advice here.

You do not need to fill out Parts 9 and 10 unless you used an interpreter or attorney, and if so, they can help you complete these.

Part 11 gives you extra space for whatever didn't fit in the main form.

NEED IMMIGRATION HELP ?

Talk to an Immigration attorney.

We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you