Form I-134 is filled out by U.S. sponsors to show the U.S. government that the person can and is willing to support a non-U.S. citizen financially during that person’s temporary stay in the United States. It is most commonly used in connection with visitor visas, fiancé visas, and diversity visas where the immigrant’s income alone is not sufficient to avoid the risk of him or her being found inadmissible as a "public charge."
This form is available for free download on the I-134 Affidavit of Support page of the USCIS website.
The person signing the form needs to be either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The signer may be asked to show that his or her income is at least 100% of the amounts listed per family size in the federal Poverty Guidelines, and possibly 125% when sponsoring someone for an immigrant visa (permanent residence). You can find this amount by looking at Form I-864P on the USCIS website.
One of the most common questions asked by U.S. citizens or permanent residents filling out this form is, “Will I really have to pay money for this person?”
The U.S. consulate can, in fact, ask the signer to post a bond to guarantee that the person will comply with the terms of the visa and depart on time (in which case the sponsor would get the money back). However, it does so only in borderline cases.
Also, in theory, if the person being sponsored receives government assistance, the government agency can sue the sponsor for reimbursement. However, enforcement of this provision is rare, and many lawyers believe that Form I-134 would not hold up in court anyway.
One of the biggest hurdles that applicants for visitor visas (category B-1) to the U.S. face is proving that it is not their true, hidden intent to remain in the U.S. and find a job. One of the things they must prove in order to overcome that hurdle is that they have enough money to pay for their entire U.S. stay without working. If they can prove this on their own, then submitting a Form I-134 is unnecessary.
If the case is a marginal one, however, and the prospective visitor has family or friends in the U.S., they can help out by preparing a Form I-134 and sending it to the applicant for presentation at the visa interview at a U.S. consulate. The Affidavit will not be accepted automatically as proof that the immigrant will not become a public charge, but it will be given far less scrutiny than in the case of a longer-term immigrant or intending permanent resident.
A letter of invitation may also help in this regard.
Some, but not all consulates reviewing a fiancé visa application (category K-1) may require the U.S. citizen petitioner to fill out Form I-134 as part of it. But all consulates will require some evidence that the foreign-born fiance won’t need to go on welfare or receive other government financial assistance during the 90-day stay in the U.S. on a fiancé visa.
One important thing to realize is that the Form I-134 is an easier version of the I-864 Affidavit of Support that the U.S. petitioner will later need to fill out, assuming that the couple marries and the immigrant applies for Adjustment of status (a green card) in the United States. Not only is Form I-864 longer and more complex, but the income requirements are different. For the Form I-864, the petitioner will need to show an income of at least 125% of amounts listed in the Poverty Guidelines.
The consular officers are well aware that the foreign-born fiancé will likely have to meet the 125% requirement just a few months later. Therefore it’s best, if possible, to show that the U.S. spouse meets the 125% requirement as part of the fiance visa application process.
As someone applying for a U.S. green card, you must show that you are not inadmissible – that is, ineligible for U.S. entry due to a negative health, criminal, or other type of record. If you appear likely to become a “public charge” (depend on need-based government assistance), you are inadmissible - despite having won the green card lottery.
You can overcome this finding by showing that you have savings, assets that can be sold, sources of income that will continue after you are living in the United States, and/or a job offer from a U.S. employer. However, if this is not sufficient, you may need to find a friend or relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to prepare an Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) for you to include with your green card application.
Paragraph 1: Self-explanatory, calling for the U.S. citizen or permanent resident to fill in his or her name and address.
Questions 1 - 2: Self-explanatory.
Question 3: This is for information about the visa applicant.
For fiancés, some special advice applies here: “Marital Status” should, of course, be “single,” since the person is coming to the United States for the precise purpose of getting married. And “Relationship to Sponsor” asks what relation the immigrant is to the U.S. citizen. Enter “fiancé” if you are a man and “fiancée” if you are a woman. The “spouse” line should be left blank, but if any children will be immigrating with you, enter their information on the following lines.
For regular visa applicants, simply answer it honestly. There is no requirement that you be a family relation in order to fill out this form for someone. You could, for example, fill in “Friend” for “Relationship to Sponsor.”
Question 7: Back to the U.S. sponsor, who must enter information about his or her place of employment. For “type of business” one may enter one’s position (such as “Manager of Quality Control” or “Vice President of Sales”) or a more generic description, such as “manufacturing” or “sales.”
On the next set of lines, the U.S. sponsor enters information about his or her income and assets. If the sponsor’s income alone is sufficient for the responsibility being taken on, the assets become irrelevant, so the sponsor won’t really need to list each and every asset. The questions about assets do become important, however, in cases where the U.S. sponsor’s income does not meet the Poverty Guidelines levels. The question about the amount “on deposit in savings banks in the United States” can be confusing, because you can also list amounts in checking accounts.
For “personal property,” the sponsor does not need to take into account the value of every item he or she owns. An approximate total value of big-ticket items like cars, jewelry, appliances (stereo, television, refrigerator), automobiles, cameras, and other equipment will be enough. Nor does the sponsor have to supply proof of ownership. (But if this is a fiancé visa application, the sponsor will, when it comes time for the green card application in the United States, have to provide proof of ownership of any assets being used to show financial capacity. So be sure not to exaggerate on Form I-134.)
Question 8: Anyone whom the sponsor has listed on his or her tax returns should be entered here.
Question 9: This question attempts to find out whether the U.S. sponsor is overextending him or herself financially. If the person has filled out this form or Form I-864 (the Affidavit of Support used in green card applications) on behalf of any other immigrant, these lines should be filled in.
Question 10: For the reasons that underlie Question 9, the U.S. government wants to know whether the sponsor is planning to take on financial responsibility for anyone else, having filed a visa petition on their behalf.
Question 11: The sponsor of a nonimmigrant visitor may want to explain whether he or she will be offering a place to stay, specific amounts of money, and so forth, to facilitate the person’s trip. (But fiancé visa applicants can skip this question.)
Oath or Affirmation of Sponsor. Don’t try to puzzle this legal language out. The U.S. sponsor should just be sure, before signing the form, that to the best of his or her knowledge, the answers provided are correct. There is no need to take this to a notary public for signing.
The sponsor should attach proof of the claimed income and/or assets, including:
However, for a short-term visa, the consulate may not actually require all these documents.
Also attach a copy of the document that shows the immigration status of the person signing the Form I-134. A copy of a U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or green card are the most likely examples.