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.

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