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.