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Down our free guide to the Form I-864

The Form I-864 is notoriously difficult to get right. At one point of time nearly 80% of all I-864s were rejected from the National Visa Center. Our free Guide walks step-by-step through the form and will help you avoid common mistakes.

The I-864, Affidavit of Support

The I-864, Affidavit of Support is a required piece of paperwork in all family-based immigration cases, including those based on marriage. The U.S. petitioner is required to file a Form I-864 for the beneficiary. This document is a binding contract where the petitioner promises to support the immigrant. But if the petitioner’s income is high enough to meet the legal requirements, an additional “joint sponsor” is needed to sign another Affidavit of Support. In such cases we provide independent legal advice to joint sponsors about the liabilities of signing the Form I-864. We can also prepare the Form I-864 for the joint sponsor.

What is the purpose of the form I-864?

The I-864 is required in order to show that the sponsor – or joint sponsor – has adequate financial ability to support the immigrant beneficiary. We are required to show that the sponsor can support the beneficiary at a level equal to 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for household size. The purpose of the form is to ensure that immigrant will not become dependent on public resources.

Who signs this form?

The visa petitioner is required to sign the Form I-864. But if the sponsor lacks sufficient income to meet the required amount, then an additional financial sponsor is needed. Such an individual is designated a joint sponsor or co-sponsor by immigration law. Both of those terms have the same meaning.

What are the consequences of signing the Form I-864?

The I-864 is a binding legal contract. The sponsor must understand that he makes very serious commitments by signing the I-864. The sponsor is promising to provide financial support to the immigrant – if needed – and the immigrant will have the right to sue  in court if the sponsor refuses to provide that support. Also, if the immigrant collects certain types of public benefits, government agencies can demand repayment of the cost of providing those benefits. They can sue the sponsor if he refuses to pay.

How long does the responsibility last?

The sponsor’s obligation under the I-864 lasts indefinitely. It lasts until the immigrant: (1) becomes a citizen; (2) can be credited with 10 years of work; (3) is no longer a permanent resident and leaves the U.S.; (4) is granted adjustment of status in deportation proceedings using a different sponsor; or (5) dies.  Until one of these events occurs the sponsor is required to provide support if needed.

Learn more about the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

The federal right to immigration “alimony” under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

A version of this article first appeared in the Side Bar journal for the Litigation Section of the Federal Bar Association (Spring 2021). If you are like most federal litigators – this author included – you would never enter divorce court unless your name was on the case caption. The vitriol, the sabotage, the meanness. Who needs it? Certainly not…

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How long does the I-864 support last?

Support under the Form I-864 lasts until one of the five Terminating Events defined by federal statutes and regulations. Until one of these five events happens, the Form I-864 sponsor is bound by the contract and required to provide support when needed. 1 - Becoming a U.S. citizen. If a sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, that terminates the support…

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Can a nuptial (prenup) agreement waive rights under the Form I-864?

No, federal courts have squarely held that a pre- or post-nuptial agreement cannot waive rights under the Form I-864. Even if a sponsored immigrant has signed a document saying that she forfeits all rights under the I-864, that agreement is meaningless in federal court. Nuptial agreements and the Form I-864. It is very common for sponsored immigrants to sign a…

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Video: Financial Liability Under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

This post contains the material for today's talk given to the family law section of the Texas State Bar Association. Thanks to the renowned Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, for co-presenting with me. Our talk addressed legal enforcement of the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, including the (mostly unpublished) Texas state cases that address it in the context of family law proceedings. Articles…

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Video: The Form I-864 & the right to indefinite spousal support

Family law attorneys need to understand that certain immigrants are entitled to financial support far in excess of what would be prescribed by state family law. Under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, sponsored immigrants are entitled to indefinite financial support from their sponsors, potentially for the remainder of their lives. This presentation - given today for North Carolina Advocates…

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Who qualifies for financial support under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Certain green card holders are legally entitled to receive financial support from their immigration sponsors. Exactly who qualifies for support? 1 - Did you get your green card through a spouse or family member? The Affidavit of Support is required in virtually every family-sponsored immigration cases. If you immigrated got yoru visa or green card from a petition filed by…

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In Florida, can you bring an I-864 lawsuit in federal court?

The form I-864, Affidavit of Support is created by federal law. Indeed, the form has been integral to the practice of (federal) immigration law for over twenty years… much longer if you consider the predecessor Affidavits of Support. So if you’re an immigrant looking to enforce your financial rights against a sponsor, you should go to federal court - right?…

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How does settlement work in I-864 cases?

Most civil lawsuits end in settlement long before they go to trial. Lawsuits to enforce the I-864 are no different. In our experience, roughly half of I-864 enforcement cases settle before a lawsuit is ever filed, or very shortly after the lawsuit is filed. In the remainder of cases there is at least some “motions practice,” which in these cases…

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Another I-864 claim lost in divorce court – Mullonkal v. Kodiyamplakkil

It is that I have unfortunately observed before. Yet another I-864 beneficiary has lost out on a claim under the I-864 because they tried to do so in state family law court versus federal court. Mullonkal v. Kodiyamplakkil was a case arising in Placer County, California. C085825 (Cal. 3d App. June 29, 2020). While the case was being litigated at…

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Beringer v. Beringer – another example of bad I-864 results in state court

Another case, this one in Texas, illustrates the dangers of trying to enforce the Form I-864 in state versus federal court. In Beringer v. Beringer, yet another I-864 beneficiary got less than what she was entitled to under the plan terms of the I-864 and federal law. No. 04-19-00097-CV (Tex. App. Apr. 1, 2020). The Beneficiary was a Mexican national…

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Another federal court holds that nuptial agreements cannot waive I-864 support rights

In Golipour v. Moghaddam, yet another federal court has directly held that an I-864 beneficiary cannot waive her rights in a nuptial agreement. No. 4:19-cv-00035-DN-PK (D. Utah Feb. 7, 2020) (granting and denying in part cross-motions for summary judgment). This case arose recently in the District of Utah. In Golipour, the Court categorically rejected the argument that a Form I-864…

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Anderson v. Anderson – more I-864 enforcement messiness

In Anderson v. Anderson, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193910 (W.D. Wash., Nov. 4, 2019), following Anderson v. United States, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 211102 (W.D. Wash., Dec. 22, 2017), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington addressed two main principles of I-864 jurisprudence. First, the decision elaborated upon the definition of “income” as used to evaluate whether…

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Plaintiff win on I-864 abstention and income calculation – Al-Aromah v. Tomaszewicz

In Al-Aromah v. Tomaszewicz, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154638 (W.D. Va. Sep. 10, 2019), the plaintiff Nadiah Al-Aromah (“Al-Aromah”) sought I-864 damages for a 6-month period that occurred prior to the time she filed for divorce from her husband - I-864 sponsor in a state court. The state court divorce proceedings were still ongoing, yet the state court had entered…

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More res judicata fights – Levin v. Barone & Greiner v. De Capri

Courts continue to grapple with when a prior family law (divorce) case may pose a res juidcata problem for an I-864 plaintiff. Levin v. Barone. In Levin v. Barone, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169573 (S.D.N.Y., Sept. 30, 2019), the plaintiff sought I-864 enforcement. In a prior proceeding (“Levin I”), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed…

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I-864 defendant cannot avoid liability by claiming marriage fraud, holds Ninth Circuit

In a recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that an I-864 defendant cannot avoid liability by claiming marriage fraud. The decision follows the view that I-864 obligations end only after one of the five terminating events defined by Congress. Dorsaneo v. Dorsaneo arose in the federal district court for the Northern District of California (No. 3:17-cv-00765-VC).…

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54% of I-864 plaintiffs lack legal representation

A review of all I-864 enforcement cases filed in the federal court system shows that most claimants go to court without a lawyer. Out of all publicly available cases, 54% of plaintiffs tried to represent themselves. Do I-864 plaintiffs have legal assistance? Self-representation - also called “pro se” or “in pro per” representation - is extremely challenging. Successfully representing yourself…

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Raising I-864 in alimony order presents an unfair pickle

A recent case shows the risk when immigrants raise the Form I-864 in the context of family law proceedings. Once again, a family law court has enforced the Form I-864… but only sort of. CAN WE OR CAN’T WE RAISE THE I-864 IN DIVORCE COURT? The Form I-864 is required in all family immigration cases. That includes cases where the…

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Belevich v. Thomas – Prejudgment interest and other good I-864 holdings

On June 20, 2019 a judge for the Northern District of Alabama handed down a decision on the first I-864 litigation in that state (whether federal or state court). The order, Belevich v. Thomas, touches on a number of interesting and helpful points of law. Background. The Plaintiff was the beneficiary of Form I-864s signed by both his wife and…

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Anderson v. USA – Another Court rules that “fraud” is not a defense in I-864 case.

Another U.S. federal court has ruled that Form I-864 sponsors cannot avoid liability by alleging that they were defrauded into signing the Form I-864. In Anderson v. USA, et al, Judge Robert Lasnik dismissed a long list of affirmative defenses and counterclaims advanced by the defendant. 2:17-cv-00891-RSL (W.D. Wash. Feb. 25, 2019) (Order Regarding Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims). Most defendants…

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USCIS proposes new public charge rules: changes impact public benefits and the Form I-864 for adjustment applicants

A version of this article will appear in Bender's Immigration Bulletin and is republished here with permission.  Video from live webinar on public charge rules. USCIS proposes new public charge rules: the Form I-864 will become table stakes as scrutiny shifts to the applicant Greg McLawsen[1] On September 21, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security announced the most sweeping changes…

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Changes to USCIS “public charge” determinations and use of the Form I-864

*This article is now outdated* After this article was published, USCIS formally announced new rules for public charge determinations. Find an updated article about those changes here.    USCIS is considering major changes to how it makes "public charge" determinations. The scope of these potential changes, while not yet official, is evident from drafts of federal regulations that were leaked…

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False claim to U.S. citizenship ground of inadmissibility

INA §212(a)(6)(C)(ii), 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(C)(ii) A person who has falsely claimed to be a United States citizen is potentially inadmissible. In practice, this rule often creates problems for individuals who have long been present in the United States without documentation. To be subject to this ground of inadmissibility three things need to be true: the false claim was made after…

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Deportation within the past 10 years – ground of inadmissibility

INA §212(a)(9)(A)(ii), 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(9)(A)(ii) Once a person is ordered removed from the United States, she is inadmissible to return for 10 years. This becomes 20 years if it is her second removal. “Removal” is the technical term for what most people call deportation. For the visa clientele that we serve, this issue arises very seldom. Your fiancée or spouse…

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Form I-864 issues 101 – Materials for NW conference, Amer. Immigration Lawyers Association

I prepared this material for a presentation this week at the Northwest Regional Conference for the American Immigration Lawyers' Association. I don't find it very helpful when speakers put this much detail in slides, so I thought it would make more sense to share it as a post here. Hopefully others find it useful as well.Thanks to Ali Schneider for…

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California appeals court: “Form I-864 is enforceable, and there is no duty to seek work.

The California Court of Appeals (First District) has handed down an extremely important decision affirming rights under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The case decided is Kumar v. Kumar, A145181 (Cal. App. Div. II, July 28, 2017), available here.  First, I express my appreciation to the outstanding legal team that handled this appeal. Edin Steussy, an attorney at Orrick Herrington &…

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How do I enforce my rights under the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is signed in virtually all family-based immigration cases. If you became a lawful permanent resident (LPR) through a spouse, parent or child, chances are the Form I-864 was signed. By signing the Form I-864, the sponsor promises to ensure you have income at or about 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines - roughly $1,226…

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Extra material – AILA National Podcast on the Form I-864

This morning we are recording a podcast for the American Immigration Lawyer's Association, covering ethical issues on the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This post provides two additional items referenced in the podcast recording. Sample language for legal service agreements. I recommend that immigration lawyers include specific language in their legal services agreement that explains the Form I-864. Our sample language…

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Executive Order on protecting taxpayer resources

Today we received a leaked copy of a draft Executive Order that may be released later this week. If signed, this Executive Order would impose harsh new rules against immigrants, requiring them to meet new standards for showing self-sufficiency. It would also direct the federal government to sue U.S. citizen visa sponsors to recover the cost of public benefits paid to…

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How do I withdraw the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

The Form I-864, Affidavit of Support imposes serious financial obligations on a  sponsor who signs the form. If you have signed and filed a Form I-864, can you withdraw the form if you change your mind? Under some circumstances, yes. Withdrawing a Form I-864 is not a simple matter. I strongly encourage you to retain an attorney if you wish…

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Ink signatures no longer required on I-864s for NVC

The Department of State announced yesterday that original ink signatures are no longer required on I-864 series forms. Instead, applicants may provide photocopies of the the form, rather than the original. This new policy will make it easier for applicants to comply with standards at the National Visa Center (NVC). The policy takes effect on January 1, 2017. The new…

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How can I report marriage immigration fraud?

There are two main ways to file a report of marriage immigration fraud: Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is the enforcement arm of the immigration agencies - think of them as the immigration police. Their investigations office, HIS, has a marriage fraud tip line: 1-866-347-2423. The primary focus of their marriage fraud investigations…

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I haven’t filed last year’s taxes – what income do I report on the I-864?

Tax season makes filing out the I-864 even more complicated. Here's a common situation that we see often. It's February or March. You haven't yet filed last year's income taxes. But you also got a bit of a raise, so your "current income" is different than previous tax years. As required, you report the past three years of income tax…

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How can the I-864 be legally enforced?

All marriage-based immigration visas require a promise by the U.S. citizen petitioner to financially support the foreign spouse. The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a binding contract between the petitioner and the U.S. government. Financial support under the I-864 contract lasts indefinitely and survives dissolution of marriage. The foreign national spouse may sue to enforce the right to support…

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What are the required documents for the Form I-864?

You will be required to provide the following documents with your Form I-864. It is acceptable to send photocopies, rather than originals of these documents. Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Residency. You must submit one of the following based on whether you are a U.S. citizen or resident: Birth certificate; Certificate of naturalization; Certificate of citizenship; Consular report of birth…

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Completing Part 7 of the Form I-864 (Use of Assets to Supplement Income)

You need to complete this section of the form only if your reported income in Part 6 was less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size. Here are those Guidelines for 2015 (they are adjusted each year): How much is needed? If your income was not at or above the required level, then you may use…

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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…

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What are the consequences of signing the Form I-864?

The I-864 is a binding legal contract between you and the United States government. Too often, people sign the Form I-864 without understanding the serious consequences of doing so. This post offers a detailed explanation of the legal ramifications of signing a Form I-864. Note that the discussion in this post applies to you regardless of whether you are signing…

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What is the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

U.S. immigration law is an invitation-based system. For someone wishing to move permanently to the country there is no general “line” to get in. Rather, the path to permanent residency (a “green card”) usually begins with a U.S. business or individual petitioning for the foreign national – think of this as a type of invitation from the U.S. entity or…

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The Ethical Implications of Drafting A Form I-864, Affidavit of Support for a Joint Sponsor

In this piece we explore the ethics of whether attorneys should draft the Form I-864 for a co-sponsor, where the attorney represents the petitioner and/or beneficiary in the family immigration case. Because the new I-864 requires an attorney-client relationship with the co-sponsor, and because that relationship compromises the attorney's duties to his other immigration clients, we conclude attorneys should stop…

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How to Complete the Form I-864

Download this free Guide in .pdf format here   This Guide has been prepared for the purpose of providing general instructions for completing the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. By using this Guide you agree that no attorney-client relationship exists between you and Sound Immigration nor any of its attorneys. This Guide is made available at no cost and may…

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Published opinion establishes right of immigrant to sue for financial support

Yesterday a Washington State appeals court handed down a published decision in a case where the appellant was represented by Puget Sound Legal. The case concerned the right of an immigrant to secure legally-required financial support from her immigration sponsor using the I-864, Affidavit of Support. In our case the court held that our client was not entitled to receive…

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Joint sponsor liable for $10,908

Following a bench trial to a federal judge, a joint sponsor has been held liable for $10,908 in damages to an I-864 beneficiary. In Matloob v. Farhan a Pakistan national brought suit pro se against her former husband and his uncle, who signed an I-864, Affidavit of Support as a joint sponsor. Civil No. WDQ-11-1943, 2014 WL 1401924 (D.Md. May…

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Reminder: joint sponsors may be held liable

A recent court decision serves as a reminder that an individual who signs an I-864, Affidavit of Support may be held financially liable by the beneficiary. The case is summarized in our companion blog here. It is extremely important for joint sponsors to take their responsibilities seriously and to understand what they are getting into before signing an I-864. For…

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Raising I-864 in divorce court bars litigation in federal court

What happens if an Affidavit of Support beneficiary unsuccessfully raises the issue of I-864 financial support during divorce proceedings? One court has recently held that she will be barred from bringing a federal lawsuit to subsequently enforce those rights. In Yaguil v. Lee the foreign national wife asserted her right to financial support during divorce proceedings. 2:14-cv-00110-JAM-DAD, 2014 WL 1400959…

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Ante-nuptial agreements can’t waive I-864 support

A third court has held that purported waivers of I-864 support are ineffective. Toure-Davis v. Davis, NO. WGC-13-916, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42522 (Dist. M.D. Mar. 28, 2014). In Toure-Davis v. Davis the court gave both a narrow (but plausible) and a broad (but misguided) basis for holding the waiver was ineffective.  I’m indebted to noted immigration attorney, Bob Gibbs,…

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No issue preclusive effect following divorce trial. Yuryeva v. McManus (Texas).

In Yuryeva v. McManus a Texas appeals court stated clearly – although in dicta – that an immigrant-beneficiary could bring a subsequent contract action on the I-864 despite failing to raise enforcement in the context of her divorce proceeding. No. 01-12-00988-CV, 2013 WL 6198322, at *7 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. Nov. 26, 2013) (memo. op.). In the divorce proceeding…

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Colorado River abstention applies. Pavlenco v. Pearsall (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2013).

In Pavlenco v. Pearsall the District Court for the Eastern District of New York has offered the most detailed analysis to date on the application of abstention doctrines in the context of suing on the I-864.  No. 13-CV-1953 (JS)(AKT), 2013 WL 6198299 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2013) (memo. order).  In Pavlenco  the parties had a pending state court divorce matter, approximately one…

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What is household size? Erler v. Erler (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2013)

In Erler v. Erler a District Court provided the most detailed discussion to date of the calculation of household size for determining the level of support obligations under the I-864.  CV-12-02793-CRB, 2013 WL 6139721, at (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2013). The court began by recognizing that there is no single definition of “household size” for purpose of the Federal Poverty Guidelines…

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Hello,

    does it state anywhere in US immigration laws the complication of signing an I-864 if the sponsor lives of public benefits such as welfare or other “dependents” forms of income? Other countries specify very carefully and clearly the income limit a sponsor must be able to present independent from public befits, but I haven’t seen this matter addressed at all when reading about the US immigration process, but I can’t imagine these factors aren’t scrutinized by an officer.

    Thank you.

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