Green Card: Affidavit of Support – Understanding the I-864
Understanding the I864
We help a number of clients through the green card process, and for those who have qualified for a green card, understanding the financial support requirement can be a bit tricky.
US Immigration and Citizenship Services has a number of forms used in their applications, each one of which outlines a different set of data to the government. For most green card applicants, proof must be provided that upon entering the United States the applicant will not need financial government aid, and the Affidavit of Support is designed to prove the financial status of an incoming immigrant.
What is the I864?
The I-864 is called the Affidavit of Support, and it functions as a contract between the signatory and the US government. By signing this contract, the signatory agrees that they will ensure that the incoming resident has the appropriate financial support, and thus will not require ‘mean-tested benefits.’
We will come back to what is considered as ‘means-tested benefits,’ but for now let’s discuss how a US resident who is sponsoring an immigrant can show that they earn enough money to support them.
The US government uses census data to set poverty guidelines. Essentially, based on the statistics provided, the US government outlines what they consider to be a ‘poverty line.’ This marker can be used as a tool in various governmental entities, but for the purposes of US immigration, it serves to determine the minimum income a person must have in order to sponsor an incoming immigrant.
Additionally, these documents can be used to determine how much a sponsor would need in assets should their annual income fall short of the requirement minimum.
These guidelines are outlined in a document called the I864P.
Let’s talk a bit about how to read the I864P to determine the minimum wage you would need to earn to sponsor an immigrant.
How to Read the I864P
First, you must determine what the sponsor’s household size is. This will include the sponsor, the intending immigrant, any minor children of either the sponsor or the immigrant, and anyone else that the sponsor may claim on their taxes as a dependent.
For example, if the sponsor is a single mom with one child and she would like to petition for her British husband with no children, we would have a household size of three, which means that the minimum annual income of the sponsor needs to be at least $25,200.
Let’s continue this example, and say that the sponsor in our example only earns $20,000, which means that she is $5,200 short of the guideline. In this case, we can show any assets she might have, provided that their value is at least three times the amount of the shortfall. In this case, our sponsor would need to show $15,600 in assets to meet the minimum income requirement. If our sponsor owns a home, and she has $100,000 equity in that home, we can use this to meet the requirement. If the sponsor is unable to meet the income requirement, she may need to consider getting a co-sponsor.
Reading the I864P is not that difficult when you know what you are looking for. Now that you understand what you are trying prove with the I864, and how to see if you have the right income level, let’s return to ‘means-tested benefits’ to get a deeper understanding of what these are.
As discussed, the Form I-864 is an affidavit of support that is a contract between the sponsor and the US government where the sponsor indicates that he or she will be financially responsible for the incoming immigrant.
The US government does not want a new immigrant to come into the country and access the resources provided to US citizens and those who have been working in the country for a number of years. It is important to understand what benefits are considered ‘means-tested.’
The following benefits are considered ‘means-tested,’ and should the immigrant receive any of these public benefits, the sponsor could be held liable for reimbursing the federal government:
- Food Stamps
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- State Child Health Insurance Program
The above are the federal programs that offer means-tested benefits, however, it is important to research the individual states where the immigrant will be living to ensure you have a full understanding of what benefits may or may not be eligible to them.
The I864 may be one of the most confusing forms that immigrants face, and we often receive calls from individuals who are trying to sort through it. We would very much like to help you with this as you look to sponsor an immigrant or make the move to the US yourself. Please call us today for a free consultation!
US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
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Specializing in the E2 Visa, EB1 Green Card, L-1A Visa and O1 Visa and K1 Visa Marriage-Based Immigration. Attorney Chris M. Ingram is dedicated to providing the very best in US Immigration legal representation. Enjoy our website.
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