Family-Based Immigration Services Immigrating to the U.S. Through Relatives

Affidavit of Support

Need an Affidavit of Support lawyer for your US immigration case at the London US Embassy?

One of the required steps in the family-based immigration process is the preparation and filing of the Affidavit of Support. Depending on a person's individual circumstances, this can be a complex piece of the US immigration process due to its numerous substantive and procedural requirements.

Generally, the Following Individuals Are Required to File an Affidavit of Support

  • US citizens petitioning for a foreign national fiancée must fill out and file the Affidavit of Support (Form I-134);
  • US citizens and lawful permanent residents petitioning for a spouse, minor children and unmarried sons and daughters age 21 and over; and US citizens petitioning for married sons and daughters age 21 and over, and brothers or sisters, must fill out and file the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864 or one of its variants);
  • Other categories, such as employment-based immigration cases where the US citizen or lawful permanent resident either filed the immigrant visa petition or owns at least 5% of the petitioning entity, may also require the filing of an Affiavit of Support form.

US Government Authority and Reasons for Requiring an Affidavit of Support

The US Immigration and Nationality Act requires all family-based immigrants and certain employment-based immigrants to have an Affidavit of Support filed for their benefit. INA § 212(a)(4) provides that a person can be denied a US visa if the consular officer believes that he or she is likely to become a 'public charge'; that is, likely to receive need-based benefits from the US government (informally known as welfare). If the US citizen or lawful permanent resident does not sign an Affidavit of Support, the relative they are seeking US immigration benefits for may be unable to immigrate to the USA.

The Affidavit of Support Sponsor Must

  • Be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • Aged 18 or over;
  • Be domiciled in the United States (this is a complex area of law and does not necessarily mean that a sponsor must presently live in the USA);
  • Meet the relevant financial requirements such that their foreign relative is unlikely to become a public charge; and
  • Either be the petitioner in a US immigration application filed with the US government, or else act as a Joint Sponsor, accepting joint and several liability for supporting the beneficiary at the required income level.

Legal Obligations Undertaken by the I-864 Affidavit of Support Sponsor

The Affidavit of Support is a legal, enforceable contract between the US citizen or lawful permanent resident sponsor and the United States government. By signing the Affidavit of Support, the sponsor agrees to the following:

  • Being sued by the US government, any agency providing means-tested benefits to their relative, and their immigrant relative in state or federal court;
  • Maintaining the foreign relative at the required financial level (calculated with reference to the poverty guidelines; for Form I-864, this is 125% of the poverty guidelines);
  • If the foreign relative accesses means-tested public benefits, reimbursing the agency that provided financial assistance to the relative;
  • Notifying United States and Citizenship Services (USCIS) of any change of address within 30 days of the change by filling out and submitting a Sponsor's Notice of Change of Address (Form I-865); and
  • Continuing to be subject to Affidavit of Support obligations until one of the following occurs: the beneficiary becomes a United States citizen; is no longer a 'green card' holder and has left the US; dies; can be credited with 40 quarters of Social Security Act coverage; or obtains a new Affidavit of Support in situations where the relative is placed in removal proceedings but is granted adjustment of status based on a new affidavit. Divorce does not end the sponsor's obligation to continue maintaining the sponsored immigrant.

US immigration law concerning Affidavit of Support requirements is extremely complex and provides numerous exceptions to the general rules. The brief information above does not constitute legal advice and cannot do this complicated issue justice. This article is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified US immigration attorney, tailored to your specific US immigration case and circumstances.

Additional Resources

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides tips for filing Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member and tips for filing Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA.

Need an Affidavit of Support lawyer for your US immigration application in London?

Located in central London, UK, the American Immigration Law Office LTD regularly assists US citizens and 'green card' holders petition their foreign spouse and other qualifying relatives in relocating to the USA. Need help navigating the complexities of the US immigration maze and understanding how you can meet Affidavit of Support requirements? The firm's US immigration lawyer in London is prepared to examine your particular situation, advising you about your eligibility to act as an Affidavit of Support sponsor in London and ways in which you can solidify your application. Contact us today to discuss your immigration case!

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