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What to Do When You Have a Low Income and Need to File

What is Form I-864?

Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” is a document used in the U.S. immigration process to demonstrate that a sponsoring individual has the financial means to support the intending immigrant. This form is required in various family-sponsored immigration cases to ensure that the sponsored immigrant will not become a public charge and will have adequate financial support.

Key points about Form I-864 include:

  • Financial Responsibility: The primary purpose of Form I-864 is to establish that the sponsoring individual (the petitioner) has sufficient income and financial resources to support the intending immigrant (the beneficiary) and prevent them from relying on public assistance.
  • Sponsoring Categories: Form I-864 is typically required in family-sponsored immigration cases where the intending immigrant is seeking an immigrant visa based on their relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsor. This includes immediate relatives (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21) and certain other family preference categories.
  • Minimum Income Requirement: The sponsoring individual must demonstrate that their income is at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for their household size. If the petitioner’s income falls short, they might need to use assets or a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.
  • Joint Sponsor and Household Members: In cases where the sponsoring individual’s income is insufficient, a joint sponsor (another individual who meets the income requirement) can provide an additional affidavit of support. Household members’ income can also be included in certain cases.
  • Legal Obligation: By signing Form I-864, the sponsor agrees to provide financial support to the intending immigrant until they become a U.S. citizen, have accumulated 40 quarters of work, leave the U.S., or pass away, whichever occurs first.
  • Affidavit of Support Contract: The I-864 is considered a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government. It’s intended to prevent the sponsored immigrant from becoming reliant on means-tested public benefits.
  • Submission: Form I-864 is typically submitted along with the immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application. The completed form and any required supporting documentation must be included to establish the sponsor’s financial ability.
  • Duration: The sponsor’s obligation under the I-864 continues even if their financial circumstances change after the intending immigrant’s entry into the U.S. This obligation ceases only under certain specific circumstances.

As immigration laws and forms can change, it’s important to refer to the most recent version of Form I-864 and the official instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or consult with an immigration attorney if you’re involved in the immigration process and need assistance with the Affidavit of Support requirements.

How to fill out Form I-864?

Filling out Form I-864, the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” involves providing detailed financial information to demonstrate that you have the financial means to support the intending immigrant. Here’s a general guideline on how to fill out the form:

Please note that immigration forms and procedures can change over time, so always refer to the most up-to-date instructions provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when completing Form I-864.

  • Download the Form: Visit the USCIS website and download the most recent version of Form I-864 along with its instructions.
  • Part 1: Information About You: Fill in your personal information as the sponsor. This includes your name, address, date of birth, and social security number.
  • Part 2: Household Size: Indicate the number of people in your household, including yourself, any dependents, and the intending immigrant. Household size affects the minimum income requirement.
  • Part 3: Sponsor’s Income and Employment: Provide details about your income, employment, and tax information. You’ll need to include your total income from all sources and verify your most recent federal income tax return. If your income falls below the required threshold, you might need to use assets to meet the requirement.
  • Part 4: Intending Immigrant’s Information: Fill in the intending immigrant’s information, including their name, relationship to you, and the immigrant visa category they are applying under.
  • Part 5: Contract Between Sponsor and Government: Read and understand the obligations outlined in this section. By signing the form, you are agreeing to provide financial support to the intending immigrant.
  • Part 6: Additional Information: This section is optional and can be used to provide additional information to support your affidavit of support.
  • Part 7: Sponsor’s Signature: Sign and date the form. If you’re using a preparer, they should sign and date the form as well.
  • Part 8: Interpreter’s Contact Information: If someone helped you complete the form, provide their contact information.
  • Gather Supporting Documents: Along with the completed Form I-864, you might need to include supporting documentation such as tax returns, W-2 forms, pay stubs, and other evidence of your income.
  • Submit the Form: Include the completed form and supporting documents with the immigrant visa application or adjustment of status application.
  • Keep Copies: Make copies of the completed form and all supporting documents for your records.

Remember that the process of filling out Form I-864 can be complex, especially when it comes to determining income eligibility and providing appropriate documentation. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the form, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney or other qualified legal professional to ensure accuracy and compliance with USCIS requirements.

What documents must the sponsor submit with Form I-864?

When submitting Form I-864, the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” as part of the immigration process, you’ll typically need to provide various supporting documents to demonstrate your financial ability to support the intending immigrant. These documents help establish your income, employment, and overall financial situation. Here are some common documents you might need to submit:

  • Federal Tax Returns: Copies of your most recent federal tax returns (Form 1040) along with all supporting schedules. This helps establish your income over the past few years.
  • W-2 Forms: Copies of your W-2 forms for the most recent tax year, showing your income from an employer.
  • Pay Stubs: Recent pay stubs or other evidence of your current employment and income.
  • Employment Verification Letter: A letter from your employer stating your job title, salary, and how long you’ve been employed there.
  • Self-Employment Documentation: If you’re self-employed, provide documentation such as business tax returns, profit and loss statements, and evidence of business ownership.
  • Proof of Assets: Documentation of any assets you plan to use to meet the income requirement. This could include bank statements, property deeds, and valuation documents.
  • Proof of Pension or Retirement Income: If applicable, provide documentation of pension or retirement income.
  • Social Security Benefits: If receiving Social Security benefits, provide documentation.
  • Form 1099: If you receive income as an independent contractor, freelancer, or through other sources, provide Form 1099 or similar documents.
  • Affidavit of Support Contract: A signed copy of Form I-864 itself, including all necessary information and signatures.
  • Proof of Citizenship or Residency: As the sponsor, you’ll need to prove your U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. This could include a copy of your U.S. passport, birth certificate, or green card.
  • Proof of Relationship: In some cases, you might need to provide evidence of the relationship between you (the sponsor) and the intending immigrant. This could include marriage certificates or birth certificates for immediate relatives.

It’s important to note that the specific documents required can vary depending on your individual circumstances and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements at the time of filing. Always refer to the most current instructions provided by USCIS for Form I-864 and consult with an immigration attorney if you’re unsure about which documents to include with your application.

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