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How to complete Part 6 on the Form I-864 (Sponsor’s Employment and Income)

Part 6 is an extremely important section of the Form I-864. Most problems we observe with the Form I-864 come from incorrect answers on this section.

Household versus individual income. This section asks you to report both your individual income (item 2) and your current household income (item 15). Your “Household income” means your income as reported on your most recent IRS tax return. If you filed a Form 1040 return you must report your total income; if you filed a Form 1040EZ you report your adjusted gross income. This distinction is extremely important!

Your individual income will be different from your household income if you filed joint tax returns with a. If you did, then you will need to isolate which of the reported income was yours versus the souse. To do this, refer to your W-2 from the most recent tax years, along with any Forms 1099 or Schedules showing your income.

It is extremely important that the numbers in this Part add up correctly. Household Income must equal the sum of the individual income reported for each household member. For household with complex income, it will be easiest to ask your accountant to provide a statement showing the breakdown of income between household members.

What if your income went up or down since the last time you filed federal tax returns?

If you income has changed since the last time you filed taxes then you will need to report your new income level. Please note that if you do this you will need to provide 6 months of paystubs to validate the newly claimed income. It is also a good idea to provide an original, signed letter from your employer stating your date of hire and current salary. This poses a substantial extra burden for you. If your most recent reported income was above the required level, it will be far easier to simply report that number. The immigration service defines “income” as what was reported on the most recent returns.


The I-864 can get very complicated for someone who is self-employed. For a sponsor without W-2 income, she/he will have the task of carefully documenting the sources of income in a way that can be understood by the immigration services. Here are things you may wish to consider providing in the case of self-employment. Note that these are in addition to the income tax documentation, which is required in call cases:

  • Profit/loss statement. This is a helpful way to show the immigration service that the self-employed sponsor is making money.
  • Bank statements. 12 months of bank statements for the business. If the sponsor has been using a personal bank account for business income/expenses then it is critical to provide separate accounting of business cash flow.
  • Federal business tax returns. If the sponsor files a Schedule C with her/his personal income tax returns this should be provided, along with any other schedules and/or 1099s showing income.

Non-taxable income. Non-taxable income may be used to meet the required financial support amount, such as the following scenarios. Be careful to provide documentation of these benefits, since by definition they will not be accounted for in your reported “total income” on tax returns.

  • Social Security earnings.
  • Investment earnings.
  • Legal settlements.
  • Inherited funds.
  • Life insurance proceeds.
  • Disability insurance and disability compensation.
  • Unemployment insurance. Note that this is problematic, as the immigration service may have concerns about the longevity of such benefits, which are limited in duration.



Greg McLawsen

I’m proud to be the founder of Sound Immigration. My job is to work behind the scenes to ensure our clients have an outstanding experience at our firm. I’m passionate about reinventing the practice of law to make it work better for those we serve. I work hard to identify the best available technology to make our firm convenient for clients. I look to other industries, like real estate and the restaurant business, to learn about practice that will help serve our clients better.

This Post Has 74 Comments

  1. What if i just became self employed this year and am now on unemployment due to COVID19

    1. Hi, Sonia:
      You can list your unemployment insurance payments as income on the I-864; but if you don’t have income (including that) at or above 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines then you’ll need a joint sponsor.
      Best ~

  2. Due to the pandemic situation, I am getting pandemic assistance . I understand these assistance’s are taxable income if I am not mistaken. As I have not earned income on w2 , can I show my taxable income( pandemic assistance income) for affidavit of support?
    for example, to bring my spouse to the US,I need to show $21,500 yearly income where I live as per i864 poverty guideline. But I earned only $9,000 on W-2, can I show Pandemic assistance income which are $12,500 income together with my income to fulfill poverty guideline criteria .Hope it make sense.
    Thank you so much in advance.

      1. I am in the same boat, unemployed since mid March due to Covid. I am getting UI as well as the pandemic assistance–how would you recommend providing a record of this? I have attached a written explanation at the end of the form, as well as my last pay stub showing year-to-date earnings through mid-March, but I’m wondering how best to show proof of the UI and pandemic payments?

  3. For about 2 yaers, I’ve been living abroad with my husband. I have kept my US mailing address at my parent’s home. When we move back to the USA, we will stay with my parents. My parents will also act as co-sponsors. Should they complete form I-864 as a joint sponsor or form I-864A as a family member?

    1. Hi, Chris ~
      We would normally do this as a standalone I-864. (Although one of your parents will need to do an I-864A for the other if you were wanting to count both of their incomes).

  4. Hello,
    So my annual income for the most recent tax year is above the minimum requirement but I have not been working since January 2020(going to school). Can I still sponsor my wife or do I need to find a joint sponsor?

    I appreciate your help!

  5. I lived abroad with my now-husband for five years. One year, I filed my taxes using the foreign earned income exemption, so my US return shows an income of zero. How should I report this in Part 6, i-864? Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi, Jenny ~
      As zero. The reported amount follows what your returns show. You’ll want to drop an explanatory note in the addendum and explain why you didn’t file. Otherwise you’ll likely get an RFE.
      Cheers ~

      1. Thank you so much, Greg! Just to clarify, I did file a tax return for that year and I am including the tax transcript. So they will be able to cross check the zero amount in the transcript–given that, would you recommend still explaining it in the addendum?

  6. Hello Greg. I recently received the welcome letter from NVC. We are required to filed out an affidavit of support but my wife does not meet the minimum income requirements (full time student). So we are using a joint sponsor. As it explains on the instructions we still need to fill out one of her own as she is the petitioner and a second one for the joint sponsor. She has been unemployed for the past 2 years and has not filled taxes. On the (i864 form) there is sections for employment and incomes. Is it okay to leave these parts empty as we have a joint sponsor or do you have any suggestions? Please advise. Thank you!

    1. Hi, Jesus. You’re right that the petitioner always has to file. You’ll want to list income as $0 and employment as “unemployed.” Then in the addendum, explain that the petitioner was unemployed and thus didn’t need to file taxes. But take a close look at the rules on public charge. This article is about USCIS rules, but similar ones apply in consular cases.

  7. Hello Greg! My husband is my sponsor and we are both living and working in Europe since 2 years (we are going through the immigration process from here). I know that the income we are currently earning doesn’t count to meet the income requirements, because it’s not “earned” in the US (we’ll use assets to qualify). My question is: are we supposed to fill out Part 6 anyway? We would write that my husband (sponsor) is employed, insert the name of the company (even though not US), and the income he earned (we make the conversion € to $). We would also include me as “Person 1” and include my income. Again, we know that the income won’t count, but we don’t know if we should write it anyway or just leave part 6 blank. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Laura!
      Yes, certainly fill in Part 6 and use the addendum page to explain. It just won’t “count” towards the sufficiency of the I-864 sponsorship, as you clearly understand. For that you’ll need assets to rely upon or a joint-sponsor.

  8. Hi, I’m the petitioner For my husband and my income is too low to sponsor him. My mom will be the main sponsor And she has enough income by her self but she files taxes with her husband so their gross income is together. How should I write her gross income by her self or should I write them both for I 864?

  9. My husband is sponsoring me for form I-864. We recently filed out taxes jointly for tax year 2020. We’ll be using my income as well to qualify. Is it okay to provide our joint total adjusted gross income for the Federal Income Tax Return Information section in I-864?

      1. It is good to know , I was looking everywhere for this question as well . I am the sponsor for my husband . We both working and filling taxes together every year as married jointly. I make enough to sponsor him but I was not sure if to add him in part 6 , and if he needs to provide a form I -864 or I-864A.

  10. I, petitioner, am filling I-864w for my sister (principal applicant) because she has 40 employment credits. I am almost done with Form, but I see Part 6 (Additional Information). What type of information should I include here, if any?


  11. I am a USC and sponsoring my mother only. I am a contractor, self-employed and pay myself with a W-2 . I file both business and personal taxes. I make over 100 K in my business but when I file my personal taxes I don’t make enough to sponsor my mother. Can I use i-864 EZ form and put my business as an asset or do I have to fill out the i-864 form?

  12. I don’t filing FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURN OR TRANSCRIPT, because I was out of the USA (from 2011 to 2017) arranging my legal status in my country. As my legal status in my country was not up to date I could not work. My wife is the only one working in this time. I started working once I returned to the United States, which is in 2018, and I have not yet applied for taxes
    And The National Visa Center (NVC) want that:
    “You must provide an explanation for not filing…”
    What i can do? Thanks

    1. Diego, if you are the US citizen/resident sponsor then you will need to show that you were not required to file taxes. Citizens are required to file returns on worldwide income, not just US-earned income. If you did not meet the minimum level for filing they you will have to show that. Normally an accountant is involved for this sort of a case.

  13. Hello, I’m filling the form I-864. I’m stuck on part 6, 23.a. about taxes. My wife just started working a few months ago and never filed for taxes before. I’m not sure what to put in the Federal Income Tax Return Information.
    please help, thank you

  14. Hi, my wife is a naturalized american citizen and she is sponsoring both of her parents to get their green cards. She is trying to fill out the I-864 affidavit of support form but she has no income and is a full time student. I on the other hand do have income and we are both on tax forms as joint fillers. what do we need to do and or how do we go forward on this. Can you please give me a step by step instruction as i can’t get this information online and or through USCIS..?

    1. Hi, John. No, we certainly cannot provide free step-by-step guidance to individuals who are not clients. You will need to examine the instructions for filing an I-864A as a household member.

  15. Hi,
    I’m filling out form I-864 as the petitioner for my spouse. I was living abroad for past 6 years and had the foreign earned income exclusion so my past 3 tax returns show a salary of essentially a few hundred dollars for some dividends. My company transferred me to WA in July and I’ve already earned in excess of the minimum threshold just in the past 3 months. Will the past 3 months (since my starting date in US) of pay stubs suffice since it shows that I’ve already earned enough or do I need to provide pay stubs from Europe (which will be in Euros and not in English)?
    Also, I was told that I don’t list my child as a dependent since I didn’t list him on my 2017 tax return (born abroad and didn’t yet have a SSN) – is that true?

    1. Welcome home! Our rule of thumb is usually to recommend clients have 6 months of pay stubs in this situation. But adjustments are taking so long you will have far more than that by the time of the interview – just bring more with you at that time. The income needs to be U.S. based.

      Wouldn’t want to opine on the tax issue, as that’s not our practice area.

  16. Hi,
    My problem is about that. I live for 6 year outside the United States, and I only have here some months (April -Now) I have a co signer. But I don’t know what to but on my application. Thanks for any help.

    1. Hi, Diego. If you are the petitioner then you are required to be domiciled in the U.S. That can include being in the process of reestablishing domicile. But you cannot use a joint sponsor to make up to domicile requirement.

      1. Thanks for your answer.

        Currently I live in the US. I’m live here since November 2017, but I work from April to Now delivery driver. I don’t have enough time working I don’t have W2. What supposed to but in the part of income. Thanks you.

        1. You’ll need to extrapolate from your paystubs and provide copies of the pay stubs. You’ll also need to explain why you haven’t filed returns if you qualified on their foreign income exception.

          1. I don’t work outside the US, only my wife. I only have some insignificant job of a week or two with a small payment. Thank you.

  17. does question 6 part 24 a,b,c on i864 all need to be filled in by the sponsor, he knows 2017 and 2016, but cant locate 2015. Does he need to send in bank statements also?

      1. I have a joint sponsor for my husband but she began working 2 years and only have her w-2 for 2016 and 2017 which her 2016 she only made 516.22 on her w-2 what would the right step to take

  18. Hi, I would like to know that if i am the petitioner but not the financial sponsor (not even the joint sponsor), then do i still need to fill Part 3 (Information About the Immigrants You Are Sponsoring).

    1. The petitioner in a family-based case is a mandatory financial sponsor unless the person meets an exemption for the I-864 requirement. But in any event, you have to fill out the I-864 only if you are a sponsor.

      1. Let me expand on my question. I am the petitioner and on social security so I cannot sponsor them financially. However my grand daughter is able to sponsor them financially. So she would be filing as “the only joint sponsor” and would fill a separate I 864.
        My question is: In the I 864 that I fill do i fill the section 3 and subsequent sections even though I cannot financially sponsor the primary applicant and her dependent.
        Sorry for the confusion.

  19. Hi our household size is two, my sponsor and me. His income is past the federal poverty guidelines, is it ok that the figure for the individual annual income and the household income is the same? We currently live together but i am self employed. His income is the only income contributing to the household.

  20. My wife is housewife but we file taxes jointly even though she does not have income. She is sponsoring her parents. Does she need to file I 864 and then do I need to file I864 A and become her co sponsor. Secondly, does this process needs to be completed separately for each of the parent since their are two different applications for each parent.

    1. Yes, if she needs your income for sponsorship purposes she will complete the I-864 and you will complete the I-864A. If she is a US citizen sponsoring parents through the visa process she will do a separate I-864 for each parent.

  21. Good day! What if my sponsor is both employed and self employed, what part of the irs transcript should i input on the affidavit of support form? thank you

      1. my USC wife will file I864EZ, she has IRS tax transcript, W2 and 1040 forms. but we are not sure which part or section from above forms to fill in “My current individual annual income”. thanks for advice and reply.

  22. Help please! I was a Us citizen living abroad and qualified for foreign earned income exclusion; now I had to come back to Usa for work and currently adjusting parents status for permanent residency however my I 864 shows negative total income on my 1040; what should I do?

  23. my petitioner’s annual income meet the federal poverty guidelines but his 1040 individual income tax return is negative and he is self employed, do we need to file with the i-864 with co-sponsor? thank you!

    1. You can sometimes get an I-864 for a self-employed person through based on documentation from an accountant showing what his actual access to income was (i.e., despite write-offs, etc.). If you lack access to a good accountant then it may be more expedient to proceed with a joint sponsor if you can locate one. There is no penalty to you for getting a joint sponsor; only that person’s liability.

  24. In the brackets after Current Annual Household Income, it says: (Total all lines from Part 6, Item Numbers etcetc) – basically the total of the income of the entire household. However, my sponsor earns much past the federal poverty guideline so doesn’t need to use and didn’t input the income of anyone else in her household (e.g. her spouse). If she totals those items numbers, it will just be her own income, as she didn’t need to include other household members’ income, but the question states annual household income, so does she still need to put her total household income that appeared on her joint tax return? Hope the question isn’t confusing, thank you!

    1. Howdy, Kate. Yeah, virtually everything about the I-864 is stupidly complicated.

      If the sponsor’s income is sufficient then you don’t need to wade into the weeds of reporting other household member’s income. If the tax returns include other folks’ income then you have to tease out what income is the sponsor’s alone. You will need to submit an explanation and supporting documents to avoid an RFE if the reported income on the I-864 differs from “total income” on the 1040.

    2. I see, thank you! So basically I can just put my sponsor’s income under “Current Annual Household Income” (since she’s not using anyone else’s income) and then provide and explanation and evidence (her W2 and 1099s) as to why this number is different from her total income on 1040?

      1. Sorry one more question, for the explanation, would that come from me or from my sponsor? Thank you!!

  25. Do I have to submit tax return transcripts for form I 864 or are federal tax returns enough? My 2017 tax return has been filed and accepted by the IRS. I filed through turbo tax. When I download the federal return from the website the form says “form not final do not file” Will this be adequate? This is a very time sensitive matter. Thank you

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