Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, is a way for visitors to the United States to prove that they have the financial backing to pay their way during a trip. The U.S. government wants reassurance from foreign travelers that they will depart when their visa expires or the purpose of their trip has concluded. Sponsorship from a U.S. resident is a way of providing this guarantee that the temporary visitor will not be a public charge (depend on the government for financial support).
RECOMMENDED: Income Requirements for an I-134 Sponsor
Who Should Submit Form I-134
Before the U.S. government grants a visa, visitors must demonstrate to consular officer that they are not likely to become a public charge. In other words, the visa applicant must prove that he or she has enough money to pay for their expenses during the course of the trip. Expenses may reasonably include transportation, food, lodging, and even potential medical treatment.
Some visitors have plenty of assets (like real estate, personal property, cash accounts) and can more easily document their ability to pay for all expenses during a trip to the U.S. For others, this may be difficult to prove. Visitors without many financial resources may run into a problem. It might include young people, low-income travelers and others. These individuals may use Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, as a way to overcome the problem.
Some of the most common uses of Form I-134 include but are not limited to:
- B-2 visa visitors
- K-1 fiancé visa holders
- Humanitarian parole applicants
It also may be necessary to submit Form I-134 for a B, F, or M non-immigrant requesting extension of stay or change of status. This form may also be requested by the U.S. Department of State in certain instances.
RECOMMENDED: Obligations of the I-134 Sponsor
Responsibilities of an I-134 Sponsor
Generally, a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident may act as the sponsor. It’s also possible for certain non-immigrants with employment authorization to qualify as a sponsor. The sponsor should submit a separate Form I-134 for each foreign national visitor.
By signing Form I-134, a sponsor is not agreeing to pay all of the visitor’s expenses. In fact, the foreign national visitor may plan to cover all of his or her expenses during the course of the trip. The affidavit is simply a guarantee, or promise to the U.S. government, that the sponsor will repay the U.S. government should the foreign national ever rely on public benefits.
Most immigration attorneys consider Form I-134 to be unenforceable. In practice, it’s virtually impossible for a foreign national to apply for public assistance. What’s more, the government does have the resources to track down and enforce the guarantees.
Form I-134 is Different Than Form I-864
Form I-134 is sometimes confused with Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. For intending immigrants applying for a green card, Form I-864 is generally a requisite part of the application package. Most green card applicants use the I-864 affidavit as a means to remove the public charge ground of inadmissibility. Like Form I-134, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident acts as a sponsor that promises to repay the government if the intending immigrant should ever depend on certain public benefits.
Generally, temporary visitors use Form I-134 and intending immigrants submit Form I-864.
Cost to File the I-134 Affidavit
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of State do not charge any fee for filing Form I-134. The sponsor should forward the I-134 affidavit and all supporting documents to the visa applicant. The visa applicant submits the paperwork as a part of the application.
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RECOMMENDED: Supporting Documents to Submit with Form I-134