Frequently Asked Questions on I-864 Affidavit of Support

FAQ on I-864 Affidavit of Support

Affidavit of Support-Frequently Asked Questions

At the Ranchod Law Group, we assist our clients in preparing and filing form I-864, Affidavit of Support on their behalf or on behalf of their family member. In doing so, we field an array of questions; the most common ones and their answers are as follows.

Does my income qualify to serve as my family member’s sponsor?

Whether your income qualifies to serve as your family member’s sponsor depends on the Federal Government Poverty Guidelines. This information can be found on USCIS form I-864P. Check online for the most recent version of these guidelines. These guidelines represent the minimum income requirements necessary to sponsor an applicant and depend on the sponsor’s household size. The family member who is being petitioned (also known as the “intending immigrant”), is considered part of the sponsor’s household.

What is the difference between a joint sponsor and a substitute sponsor?

A joint sponsor is sometimes necessary when the petitioning-sponsor’s income and assets do not meet the minimum amount required by the Federal Guidelines. In this instance, USCIS allows the petitioning-sponsor to obtain a joint sponsor whose income and or assets meet the guideline. The joint sponsor must be able to meet the guideline without combining income or assets with the petitioning sponsor or a second joint sponsor. However, there can be no more than two joint sponsors. A joint sponsor must be at least 18 years old and must either be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident, and domiciled in the U.S.

A substitute sponsor is a term used to describe a person that is taking the place of a petitioning sponsor who died after the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative was approved, but before the applicant obtained a green card. There are more specific requirements for substitute sponsors, including that the substitute sponsor must either be a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen and there must be a certain familial tie to the immigrant. These relations are listed on the I-864 form instructions.

My income is below the requirement for my household, what can I do?

If your income is below the requirement, you have several options-two options are covered here. For further alternatives, see the I-864 instructions.
One option is to obtain a joint sponsor. Alternatively, you may use your assets to meet the requirement. Assets that can be “converted into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the owner may be included”. Examples of assets can include the net value of your home, savings, and checking account balances. An automobile may not be included as an asset unless it can be shown that the sponsor has more than one working automobile that is not included as an asset already.
When using assets to qualify if sponsoring your spouse or child under 18, the “total value of assets must be equal to at least three times the difference” between your income and the guidelines. For example, if the gap between your income amount and the guidelines minimum is $2,000, then the total value of your assets must be equal to or exceed (3 x $2,000), which equal $6,000.

I have obtained a joint sponsor, do I (the petitioner) still have to submit an I-864 form for my relative?

Yes. Even if you have obtained a joint sponsor to sponsor your relative, you still need to submit an I-864 along with the supporting documentation. This is because you will still remain the “petitioning-sponsor” even though your relative has a joint sponsor.

Does the joint sponsor have to be related to petitioner or the beneficiary?

No. A joint sponsor does not have to be related to either the petitioner or the beneficiary. However, a substitute sponsor does have to be of a certain familial tie to the beneficiary (the intending immigrant).

I am sponsoring my relative, what documents do I need to provide?

You will need to show proof of either being a lawful permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or U.S. national. This can include a U.S. passport, birth certificate, green card or a naturalization certificate. In addition, you must also provide your Federal Tax Return statement for the last year, and copies of your W2’s. It is optional to provide a letter from your current employer showing wage/salary and position.

What documents will my joint sponsor need to provide?

The documents required for the petitioning-sponsor are the same as for a joint sponsor.

I am sponsoring my relative, but I did not file taxes last year. What should I do?

If you were required to file taxes last year, but did not, then you still must file a late return with the IRS before submitting the I-864. This means you will need to wait until you receive your IRS-generated tax return transcript showing your late filing. However, if you did not file because you were not required to, either because your income was too low or for any other reason, then you must attach a written explanation. This explanation has no formal guidelines; however it should adequately describe your reason for not filing.

I filed for an extension on my federal tax return last year, but have not received the tax return statement yet, what should I do?

If this is your situation, you can either wait until you receive your return statement, or you can submit it anyway without it. If you choose to submit the I-864 without your tax return statement, you should include a copy of the extension application. There is a possibility that USCIS may issue a “Request for Evidence” (RFE), which can delay the processing of your case. The RFE will likely ask for you to submit the tax return statement.

I am sponsoring my relative and am self-employed. Will this affect my relative’s application?

Just the fact alone that you are self-employed should not negatively affect your relative’s application. USCIS will look at your household income amount and determine whether that meets the federal guideline requirement. They will also take into account the assets you have listed on the I-864, if applicable.

Published by: The Ranchod Law Group

This blog entry is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This blog is for educational purposes only. Remember that each case is unique. If you have questions about your own immigration case, please contact our Sacramento or San Francisco office at (916) 613-3553 or to schedule a consultation.

AB-540 Students and permanent residency: What’s the Affidavit Requirement About?

If you are an undocumented immigrant who attended high school in California and want to attend a California public community college, college, or university, you may qualify to be an AB-540 student.

An AB-540 student is eligible to pay in-state tuition rather than out-of-state tuition in schools belonging to the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges systems. One of the requirements to be an AB-540 student is that you must file or plan to file an affidavit with the institution you attend. The affidavit must state that you will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.

If you are considering a path to permanent residency or citizenship, think of talking to a qualified immigration lawyer. Becoming a legal resident may make you eligible to receive scholarships, grants, student loans, and other types of financial aid, such as federal work-study jobs. This can help you lighten the financial burden while you are in school. It will also minimize the amount of debt that you will have after graduation. There is a big difference between planning for applying for legal residency and actually making steps toward that goal. Even if it takes months or years to change your status, the progress you make may lead to your becoming a legal resident upon graduation. If you are a legal resident, you will likely be much more attractive to employers.

An affidavit is a written declaration made upon an oath to a person authorized to administer an oath. An AB-540 affidavit usually consists of a written, sworn statement made to a college admissions office staff member. An affidavit may ask you to provide the name of the California high school that you attended, the dates that you attended, and your name, address, student ID number, and signature. California law does not allow the college or university to share information on the affidavit with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

If you have applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), note that a DACA application is not a step toward legal residency.

Immigration Attorney in San Francisco discusses the difference between Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa

Almost all citizens of foreign countries must obtain a visa to be able to enter the US legally. The type of visa is determined by the purpose of the travel to the US. The two main classifications of US visas are Immigrant Visas for permanent residency, and Nonimmigrant visas for temporary stays.

Nonimmigrant Visas

If you plan to stay in the US temporarily, for reasons of tourism, business, medical treatment, temporary work or a number of other possible reasons, you need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. This visa allows you to travel to the  U.S. port-of-entry to request admittance from a Department of Homeland Security official. There are around 20 different visas available in the nonimmigrant classification, that cover a large variety of possible reasons for a short-term visit.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are for foreign nationals, who plan to live and work in the US permanently. There are major categories of immigrant visas are the following: employer-sponsored, family-sponsored (including marriage based green cards and green cards for parents), and special immigrants.

US law limits the number of immigrant visas available each year.  Although there is not a limit on the number of immigrant visas available for immediate relatives.   In some cases, even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition, you may have to wait several years to be issued an immigrant visa number by the State Department. There is a certain preference system in place, according to which immigrant visas are issued.

The process of applying for an immigrant visa has several steps and depends on the nature of each particular case. To avoid any pitfalls I strongly recommend that you contact an immigration attorney to discuss your options. An experienced attorney can help you make the right decisions and help you get your visa in the shortest possible time.

I invite you to contact us in our offices in San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Sacramento. You can call us at 800-753-1399 if you have questions regarding your immigration options. We will be happy to assist you.

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