In nearly all family based immigration cases, the petitioner must execute an I-864 Affidavit of Support form. The "affidavit" is essentially a contract between the sponsor and the US government that the sponsor has sufficient income to maintain the intending immigrant at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline (new guidelines are released annually). As has been mentioned before in various articles devoted to this topic, this is a very serious obligation that continues even if the parties in a marriage based scenario divorce. One subject which does not receive as much attention, but which is equally important though, is how a sponsor can fulfill his/her obligations if he or she does not meet the financial threshold to sponsor the intending immigrant.
The very first thing to consider if the sponsor does not make enough is to ascertain whether an Affidavit of Support is absolutely required. There may be certain exceptions that exempt an intending immigrant from having an I-864 on file. Four exceptions include:
- Any intending immigrant who has earned or who can received credit for 40 qualifying quarters of work according to the Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Any intending immigrant who will acquire US citizenship automatically upon admission into the US via the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
- Self-petitioning widows or widowers with approved I-360s
- Self-petitioning battered spouses and children with approved I-360s
Other Alternatives (not necessarily in any order)
Use of Assets
If an Affidavit of Support is required and income is an issue, the sponsor may need to look to the use of assets to qualify. According to the instructions, a sponsor may submit evidence of:
- the value of [his or her] assets,
- the sponsored immigrant's assets,
- and/or assets of a household member.
If necessary, the asset value of all these potential parties may be combined to meet the requirements.
Intending Immigrant's Income
In some cases, the intending immigrant's income may be considered. However, the income from the immigrant must be shown to continue from the same source after immigration. If the intending immigrant is not a spouse, he or she must be currently living in the petitioner's residence.
Income from any household relatives
Income from any relatives or dependents living in the sponsor's household (or dependents listed on the sponsor's most recent federal tax return) may be considered and added to the sponsor's income to meet the financial threshold. Any such person would be undertaking the same obligations as the primary sponsor and would be jointly and severally liable. A person under these circumstances would be executing an I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
If there is an individual not related or living in the sponsor's household who is willing to incur the same financial obligations as the sponsor, he or she may help the sponsor meet the income requirements by serving as a Joint Sponsor. The Joint Sponsor must demonstrate that he or she has sufficient income/assets to fulfill the requirements and execute his or her individual I-864. Importantly, the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant.
If the petitioner does not earn sufficient income or possess enough assets, it is absolutely critical to explore these alternative sources with an attorney who can determine and evaluate whether the I-864 may be satisfied through these alternative means. The consequences of non-compliance are very serious and may result in a denial of adjustment of status or refusal of an immigrant visa. For more information about the affidavit of support and how to meet it, please contact our office.
The foregoing is general information only. It does not create an attorney client privilege nor should it be relied upon as legal advice.