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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

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. We 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. By signing the document you make two distinct promises. First, you promise to ensure that the intending immigrant has income at a level equivalent to 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. A table showing that income level is available on the Form I-864P, which may be…

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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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