Filling Out Form I-864, Step by Step

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Here are some tips for the trickier questions on USCIS Form I-864, which all family sponsors need to fill out on behalf of the immigrant who’s getting a U.S. green card:

Part 1: Basis for filing Affidavit of Support. Here, the main sponsor writes his or her name and checks Box a if it’s purely a family immigration case. If the sponsor is an employer/family petitioner, he or she must check Box b or c. Friends or non-petitioning who agree to fill in this form as joint sponsors check either Box d or e.

Box f is for situations where the immigrant’s original sponsor died after the visa petition was approved and the immigrant is asking U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to allow the application to go forward for humanitarian reasons (called “reinstatement”). In this case, the immigrant must find another family member in the U.S. who is willing to serve as a substitute sponsor and meets the basic sponsorship requirements (age 18, domiciled in the U.S., and a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or national). The family members who qualify to do this include the immigrant’s spouse, parent, mother- or father-in-law, brother or sister, child (if at least 18 years of age), son or daughter-in-law, sister- or brother-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, and legal guardian.

Part 2: Information on the principal immigrant. These are basic questions concerning the person immigrating. If the immigrant hasn’t been assigned an A-Number or a Social Security Number, leave these blank.

Part 3: Information on the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring. Note that there’s a place to list children. You don’t need to name children who were born in the United States, because the sponsor has no obligation to promise to support them (at least not under the immigration laws, though the children will be counted elsewhere within this form to test the sponsor’s overall financial capacity).

Question 9 is basically only for use by petitioners who are permanent residents, not U.S. citizens. Notice that the form says “Do not include any relatives listed on a separate visa petition.” This would be the case if they were immediate relatives of the petitioner, in which case each one would need a separate visa petition and would also need their own Form I-864, filled out just for them, rather than a photocopy of their mother or father’s form. (For example, if a U.S. citizen father petitions for his wife and stepchildren, they are all immediate relatives, will all need separate visa petitions, and therefore will all need separate Form I-864s. But if a lawful permanent resident father petitions for his wife and stepchildren, the children are allowed to accompany the mother on her visa petition without having visa petitions separately filed for each of them, and they therefore won’t need separate Form I-864s prepared on their behalf, so should all be listed on this one form.)

Part 4: Information on the Sponsor. Remember that the sponsor’s place of residence must be in the United States in order to be eligible as a financial sponsor. If your sponsor is living overseas and doesn’t want to return to the United States until you, the immigrant, can enter as well, your sponsor must still prepare and sign this Affidavit of Support. See the article, “Filling Out Form I-864 When the U.S. Sponsor Lives Overseas.”[ http://www.usimmigrationlawyers.com/resources/immigration-law/family-and-marriage-visa/filling-out-f]

Part 5: Sponsor’s household size. This section is self-explanatory. Remember not to count anyone twice!

Part 6: Sponsor’s income and employment. Question 22: The sponsor needs to fill in information about his or her employment here. Self-employment is fine. Be aware that if a self-employed sponsor has underreported income to the IRS in the past, the earnings shown may not be sufficient to support the immigrant. In that case, the sponsor will need to file an amended tax return and pay a penalty before the newly reported income is accepted as meeting the guidelines for sponsorship.

Question 23: Here, the sponsor is supposed to enter his or her current income. If that amount is higher than shown on the sponsor’s last tax return, be sure to include supporting documentation (such as copies of pay stubs or a letter from the sponsor’s employer stating the current salary). Such proof will be especially important if the raise in salary since the last tax return takes the sponsor over the Poverty Guidelines minimum.

Question 24: This question is especially important for sponsors whose income is not enough by itself, but who will be using the income of members of their household to help meet the Poverty Guidelines minimum requirements. First, every sponsor must state his or her own income. Then, if the sponsor wants other people’s income counted, they must be mentioned in Question 24b. Unless any one of these household members is the actual immigrant, they must plan to complete a separate agreement with the sponsor, using Form I-864A. The total income from the sponsor and household members goes in Question 24c.

Part 7: Use of assets to supplement income. The sponsor needs to complete this section only if his or her income wasn’t enough by itself to meet the Poverty Guidelines requirements. Remember to attach documents proving the assets’ existence and value.

If the combination of the sponsor’s household available income and assets don’t yet meet the Poverty Guidelines minimum, you’ll still need to hand in this affidavit. But you’ll definitely want to look for a joint sponsor.

Part 8: Sponsor’s Contract. The sponsor must remember to enter his or her name again and sign the form.

by: , J.D.

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