Most green card applicants require a financial sponsor to demonstrate that the intending immigrant has adequate means of financial support. For family-based applicants, the I-130 petitioner submits a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The applicant generally needs to submit Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, which may household members’ incomes. A well-prepared affidavit and declaration with sufficient financial support is how an applicant removes the public charge ground of inadmissibility. If either of these forms includes individuals that are self-employed, it can be more challenging to document.
Self-Employment Income on Form I-864
A well-prepared I-864 affidavit is accompanied by supporting documents that corroborate the facts in the form. For financial sponsors, establishing that they have sufficient income is generally one of the most important components of this evidence. Minimally, the sponsor must provide the most recent federal tax return information (but may provide up to three years). Additionally, he or she should submit documentation that evidences income for the current year. Sponsors who are employed may provide documents such as pay stubs, W-2 or an employment verification letter.
However, self-employed individuals may be slightly more challenged to prove income. You’ll still need to submit a copy of your most recent individual Federal income tax return. USCIS recommends that you submit an IRS tax transcript instead of the actual tax return. A tax transcript can be processed more efficiently than a tax return. To obtain a free IRS tax transcript, visit irs.gov or call 1-800-908-9946. If you choose to submit a copy of your actual tax return, send a signed copy, including all W-2s, 1099s, Schedules and any other evidence of reported income. (If you are self-employed, be sure to include a copy of your Schedule C, D, E, or F from your most recent Federal income tax return which establishes your income from your businesses.)
You’ll also need to establish your anticipated current year income. According to USCIS, submit the following documentation if you are a self-employed sponsor:
- Business license and registration (if available)
- Bank statements from the previous 6 months showing self-employment income
- Signed and dated statement about the nature of the business and the sponsor’s involvement
Self-Employed on Form I-944
Each household member, including the I-485 applicant, must provide evidence of income when submitting Form I-944. In other words, if the household member had income, it is necessary to prove it. Assuming the household member was required to file a tax return, using an IRS tax transcript is the most efficient way to document the most recent tax year.
Again, proving income for the current year can be more challenging for self-employed household members. This may be the case for individuals who earn income from driving (Uber, Lyft, etc.) or other self-employment. As mentioned above, use bank statements that can prove a stable flow of income. This may be supported with a profit and loss statement from the business.
Although many non-immigrants are not authorized to work (particularly self-employment) prior to applying, they do have employment history that must be included in the application. If you are uncertain about how your unauthorized employment affects your application, please speak to an immigration attorney.