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Affidavit of Support (i-864) issues? Advice from a family-based immigration attorney

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Family-based immigration attorney (s) are often faced with I-864 affidavit of support related issues and questions.

Affidavits of Support are a requirement for all family-based applications, with the narrow exception of certain VAWA (Violence against Women Act) applications.  Many people take a quick look at the form and think they understand it, but are surprised with a Request for Evidence, or RFE.  It is important to understand what an i-864 is, and how to handle Affidavit of Support issues.

1) The petitioner MUST fill out an I-864. This is important.  Whether it is an I-130, an I-485, or a Consular Processing application, you should remember that a petitioner, even when they make no income, must fill out an i-864.  The sponsor should write in numbers as reported for Adjusted Gross Income on their tax returns for the last 3 years.  If no tax return was filed, this can be explained, but it must be noted.

2) An I-864 is an enforceable contract that means that the sponsor will reimburse the US Government if the applicant/immigrant decides to get government financial assistance.

3) A joint sponsor is required when the sponsor makes less than 125% of the National Poverty Guideline in income.  The joint sponsor must make enough income to support his or her whole household, plus the number of immigrants sponsored.  This is a complex calculation and at times gets people in trouble, particularly when it is a close call.  Furthermore, the joint sponsor must be a US citizen or Permanent Resident.

4) Assets are a last resort.  Do not fall back on your assets. First of all, assets have a 5 to 1 rule. For every $1000 short in income, you must have $5000 in assets to compensate. Plus the value of assets needs to be proven.  Generally if you need to rely on your assets, count on your application being delayed.

5) Tax returns will be scrutinized.  Who is listed as dependent? Is the person filing as single but is married? Is the person filing as head of household but is married? Does the person owe child support or back owed taxes?  Taxes of a sponsor and joint sponsor WILL be scrutinized.

6) A legal immigrant, such as someone on an H-1b may be able to include his or her income, but would need to be earned legally.

If you have questions or concerns about an i-864, get an attorney to look it over.  We offer family-based immigration attorney services, including review-only services for I-130, I-485, and other family-based immigration applications. We work with clients all around the United States. Call us today to book a consultation.

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