A version of this article first appeared in the Side Bar journal for the Litigation…
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 abroad; or
- Photo (biographic page) of U.S. passport.
- Both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551; “green card”);
- Both sides of your Alien Registration Receipt Card; or
- Unexpired Form I-551 stamp in foreign passport or on Form -94 Arrival-Departure record.
- Tax records. You are required to provide documentation of your most recent year’s Federal income tax returns. You are not required to provide returns for the additional two preceding years, but it is generally best practice to do so. There are two options for how to document your returns.
- Photocopies of returns. You are permitted to provide a photocopy of your federal income tax returns. Ideally this should be a photocopy of the signed form that you submitted to the IRS, including all attachments. In reality, people often have only an unsigned copy that their accountant gave them. We have seen many people submit such a copy without issue, but there is a chance it would be rejected. You may wish to consider the other alternative, which is submitting a copy of your tax transcript (see immediately below).
- Tax transcript. Alternatively, you can request something called a “tax transcript” directly from the IRS. This is the definitive record of your tax filing history. At our law firm we prefer to use tax transcripts instead of photocopied returns, to avoid any question of whether we are accurately reporting income history. The transcript can be requested by filing a paper copy of Form 4506-T with the IRS (available here). Historically you have been able to request the transcript online (here) though at the time or writing that service was not currently available. We have also had luck with clients going to a local IRS office to make the request in person, but it is not clear that all IRS offices will provide this service.
- Documentation of change of income (if applicable). See our explanation here.
- Documentation of assets (if applicable). See our explanation here.