Several years ago, CitizenPath launched an an innovative, online service to help our customers prepare Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The online service includes a calculator that helps make Form I-864 easy for anyone to prepare. This article explains how the service works and includes an Affidavit of Support sample created from the CitizenPath software.
Many immigration attorneys consider the Affidavit of Support to be one of the most difficult U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms to prepare. USCIS routinely rejects Form I-864 or issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) as a result of incorrectly prepared Affidavits of Support. This is significant. That’s because the intending immigrant’s green card application will be denied if the I-864 does not meet the requirements. In fact, an insufficient (or poorly prepared) I-864 is one of the most common reasons for a green card denial.
The purpose for filing Form I-864 is to remove the public charge ground of inadmissibility. For the green card applicant, the primary objective of Form I-864 is to prove to the U.S. government that you have adequate financial support in the United States. If the sponsor is unable to provide an I-864 that sufficiently documents his or her income and financial resources, immigration officials will likely refuse to issue a green card to the intending immigrant. So success is vital to the entire immigration process. CitizenPath’s service will help ensure you correctly complete the Affidavit of Support and meet the requirements. Correctly preparing the form is important, but you must also submit the appropriate supporting documents that corroborate your answers.
RECOMMENDED: Public Charge Rule Explained
Determining Affidavit of Support Household Size
Before determining if your income is sufficient to sponsor the intending immigrant, it’s necessary to calculate your household size. In addition to yourself, the household includes any existing dependents plus any immigrants that you intend to sponsor. Take into consideration your existing children as well as any other dependent in the household. Essentially anyone that you can claim as a dependent on your income tax return should be included in your I-864 household size.
Depending if you want to include their income, you may also have to calculate non-dependent relatives who are living with you. Examples of non-dependents that live with you may include your:
- Siblings or
- Adult children (age 21 or older)
But the only reason to include non-dependent relatives is if you want to count their income for the purposes of meeting the income requirements. We’ll help you make that determination when you get to calculating Affidavit of Support income.
In the Affidavit of Support sample, the sponsor has a household size of eight household members. The household includes the sponsor, sponsor’s spouse, sponsor’s two children, a dependent parent, principal beneficiary, beneficiary’s spouse (derivative beneficiary) and the beneficiary’s child (derivative beneficiary).
Income Requirements for Form I-864
Next, you’ll need to determine if your household income is at least 125 percent of the federal poverty level based on the household size. The law defines this federal poverty level as “the level of income equal to the poverty guidelines as issued by the Health and Human Services in accordance with 42 U.S.C. 9902 that is applicable to a household of the size involved.” In simple terms, you’ll need to compare the household income with household size using federal poverty guideline tables for the current year. The U.S. government updates these guidelines annually. If you’re using CitizenPath to prepare Form I-864, the comparison will be done for you automatically.
Using Form I-864P
You can also find the federal poverty guideline tables on Form I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support. Form I-864P includes several tables. The amount of income necessary to be above the poverty income level depends on where the sponsor resides (either in any of the 48 contiguous states, in Alaska, or in Hawaii) and the size of the sponsor’s family. Active military service may also affect the income level. If the intending immigrant is the sponsor’s spouse or child, and the sponsor is on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, then the sponsor’s household income must be only 100 percent of the federal poverty level. CitizenPath’s software will factor in all of these criteria for you.
You must be able to calculate your own current income. Meeting the requirement is based on your current year income. If you have a single job this is more straightforward. Enter the amount you expect to make by the end of the year. Include any bonuses or salary increases that you can reasonably expect to earn. The following types of income count towards your current income:
- Wages, salaries, tips
- Taxable interest
- Ordinary dividends
- Alimony and/or child support
- Business income
- Capital gains
- Taxable IRA distributions
- Taxable pensions and annuities
- Rental income
- Unemployment compensation
- Workers compensation and disability
- Taxable Social Security benefits
- Ordinary dividends
Of course, any means-tested public benefits such as food stamps, SSI, Medicaid, TANF and CHIP should not be included in your income.
Determining Affidavit of Support Income
For the purposes of calculating your income on Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, CitizenPath will first analyze your personal income. If this is not sufficient to meet the requirement, we’ll help you calculate income from other household members. In determining the amount of household income, the sponsor may include income from all of the following persons:
- Sponsor’s spouse and of any other person included in determining the sponsor’s household size
- Intending immigrant
Each household member will need to consent by filing Form I-864A in most cases. Note that I-864A is a different form.
In the Affidavit of Support sample, the sponsor has a household income of $89,650. Based on the table in the federal poverty guidelines, this income is more than 125 percent of the poverty guidelines for a household of eight in the state of California. If the sponsor’s wife also has separate income, she could act as a household member with contributing income. A household member generally must submit Form I-864A along with the principal sponsor’s I-864. CitizenPath’s software can help you navigate this supplemental form (I-864A) for household members.
Affidavit of Support Sample Cases
Joseph petitioned his foreign spouse for permanent residence and is now preparing Form I-864 to sponsor her. Joseph was unemployed for the first six months of the year, but started working at a job on July 1 that pays an annual salary of $50,000. He does not expect to earn income from any other sources, and he is planning to work for this employer indefinitely. Joseph’s current individual annual income is $25,000 (not $50,000) because that is the amount of income he is anticipating earning in the current year (January through December).
Pascual filed a petition to help his parents immigrate to the United States. His parents are now applying for an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy, so he’s completing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, for each parent. Pascual is a bartender who also has a graphic design business on the side. In determining his income, he can use his wages, tips and business income. If Pascual counts all of the tips he earns from bar tending and counts the cash he gets from graphic design jobs, he would make enough to sponsor his parents. Unfortunately, Pascual has under reported this amount on previous years’ tax returns. In fact, based on last year’s tax returns, Pascual would not qualify as a sponsor. In this Affidavit of Support sample case, Pascual may need to obtain a joint sponsor. Regardless, he should speak to an immigration attorney and tax professional that can help him through the current situation.
The evidence that you submit for Form I-864 will vary significantly based on your answers in the form. CitizenPath provides detailed I-864 filing instructions based on your situation. (Note: The sample filing instructions linked above are for a specific case. Your case will likely include different requirements.) Our instructions will explain the exact items that you must submit with Form I-864, including examples. If you are preparing Form I-864 on your own, refer to the USCIS filing instructions.
Most Form I-864 filings should include evidence of immigration status (U.S. citizen, permanent resident or U.S. national), federal tax returns (3 years in some cases), and proof of U.S. domicile. Depending on how you define your household size and income, you must submit additional evidence to USCIS.
For example, in addition to copies of your current year’s pay stubs, it’s helpful and sometimes essential to include an employment verification letter.
RECOMMENDED: Reestablish U.S. Domicile When Filing Form I-864
CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), Petition to Help a Relative Obtain a Green Card (Form I-130), Adjustment of Status Application (I-485), and several other immigration packages.
Note to Reader: This post was originally published on November 7, 2017, and has been modified with improvements.