Form I-864, officially known as the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” is a U.S. immigration form that is typically filed by a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) on behalf of an immigrant. The purpose of this form is to show that the sponsoring individual has the financial means to support the intended immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public charge.
The following individuals are generally required to file Form I-864:
- U.S. Citizens: If you are sponsoring a family member who is immigrating to the United States based on a family-sponsored immigrant visa, you are typically required to submit Form I-864.
- Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders): In some cases, green card holders may also need to file Form I-864 if they are sponsoring certain family members.
- Joint Sponsors: If the sponsoring individual does not meet the income requirements outlined in the I-864P Poverty Guidelines, a joint sponsor may be required. The joint sponsor must also submit a separate Form I-864 and meet the necessary financial criteria.
- Household Members: If the sponsor’s income alone does not meet the required threshold, the income of certain household members can be included to meet the requirements. These household members may need to submit Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
Who needs a joint sponsor?
A joint sponsor is needed when the primary sponsor (petitioner) for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status application does not meet the financial requirements to support the intending immigrant(s). In the context of Form I-864, which is the Affidavit of Support required for many family-based immigration processes, a joint sponsor may be necessary if the primary sponsor’s income is insufficient to meet the federal poverty guidelines.
Here are situations where a joint sponsor might be needed:
- Insufficient Income of the Primary Sponsor: If the income of the primary sponsor falls below the required threshold based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines, a joint sponsor with adequate income can be enlisted to meet the financial requirements.
- Joint Sponsor for Family Members: A joint sponsor may be needed when sponsoring specific family members, such as spouses, parents, and other relatives. The requirement for a joint sponsor is more common in family-based immigration cases.
- Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories: In some employment-based immigration cases, a joint sponsor might be required if the sponsoring employer or petitioner cannot meet the income requirements alone.
It’s important to note that the joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, and they must be willing to assume the financial responsibility for the sponsored immigrant(s). Both the primary sponsor and the joint sponsor are required to submit separate Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
What documents must a joint sponsor submit to USCIS?
When serving as a joint sponsor for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status application, the joint sponsor is required to submit specific documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The documentation is necessary to demonstrate that the joint sponsor meets the financial requirements to support the intending immigrant. The following documents are typically required:
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: The joint sponsor must complete and sign Form I-864. This form is a legally binding contract in which the joint sponsor agrees to financially support the immigrant(s) to prevent them from becoming a public charge.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency: The joint sponsor must provide evidence of their U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status. For U.S. citizens, this could be a copy of a U.S. passport, birth certificate, or certificate of naturalization. For permanent residents, a copy of the green card is required.
- Proof of Income: The joint sponsor needs to demonstrate that their income meets the minimum financial requirements. This can typically be proven through the submission of the following documents:
- Copies of the most recent federal income tax returns (Form 1040) with all supporting schedules.
- W-2 forms for the most recent tax year.
- Recent pay stubs or employer letter indicating current employment and income.
- Employment Verification: If the joint sponsor is employed, they may need to provide a letter from their employer confirming their current job, salary, and employment status. Self-employed individuals may need to provide additional documentation.
- Proof of Assets: In some cases, the joint sponsor may use assets to meet the income requirements. Documentation such as bank statements, property deeds, or statements for other valuable assets can be submitted.
- Proof of Residence: The joint sponsor may need to provide proof of residence, such as a utility bill or a lease agreement, to establish their U.S. residency.