In today’s blog post, we’re talking about one of immigration’s most misunderstood documents: the affidavit of support. We’re looking into what it does, who it’s for, and what people get wrong about it. We’ll also answer some of the most commonly asked questions about this form.
The Affidavit of Support, also known as Form I-864, is used by many family-based and some employment-based immigration applicants to prove that they will not have to rely financially on government aid when they become a lawful permanent resident in the United States. The form is filled out by someone other than the applicant who by doing so accepts the financial responsibility for the applicant. Most often, a petitioning spouse accepts financial responsibility for an immigrant spouse who is seeking a green card.
When do we need a joint sponsor?
If the petitioner cannot prove that they have the financial means to support the applicant, they can elect to have a joint sponsor complete their own I-864 affidavit of support form. (But understand that the petitioner spouse is still the first one responsible for the beneficiary, even if there is a joint sponsor). Think of this as a two-part contract. First the petitioner is responsible, and if they cannot hold up to agreement, the joint sponsor becomes liable.
Why does the affidavit of support exist?
It is important to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that green card holders do not end up financially draining the government systems in place to protect U.S. citizens. They do not want people with lawful permanent resident status to end up relying on means-based public assistance (“welfare”).
How long do the responsibilities established by the affidavit of support last?
Many people wonder how long the person who filled out the affidavit of support is required to provide financial support for the applicant. Usually it lasts until one of four things happens:
- The applicant becomes a U.S. citizen, or
- The applicant completes 40 quarters of work, which generally takes ten years, or
- The applicant leaves the United States permanently, or
- The applicant passes away
Is the affidavit of support enforceable?
Yes! The Form I-864/Affidavit of Support is a legally binding contract between you and the U.S. government. If you signed this document and you do not fulfill your obligation, you could be sued by the U.S. government or by the foreign spouse in state or federal court.
What does this financial support look like?
By agreeing to financially support the person getting the green card, it does not mean that you have to give that person a certain amount of money. But it does mean that you agree to maintain the foreign beneficiary at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and to reimburse the government for any “welfare” or means-tested benefits paid to the person.
Do I still have to fulfill my obligations from the affidavit of support if I divorce the spouse I said I’d support?
This is what so many people get wrong about the affidavit of support. Yes! You are still liable under this contract whether you remain married to them or not, unless one of the four things noted above happens. This contract is not tied to your marital status and will continue on despite divorce.
I still have questions about the affidavit of support! Who can help me?
At Heitz Immigration Law, we can help you with matters related to the affidavit of support and beyond. Our firm is committed to serving immigrants and their families throughout all the challenges they face. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you in your unique situation. We can’t wait to hear from you!