Last week, USCIS quietly released for comments a proposed revision of the Affidavit of Support Form. The changes are purportedly to align with and have the forms better reflect the priorities emphasized in President Trump’s Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. The revisions will apply to Forms I-864, I-864EZ as well as I-864A for Household Members. All forms will incorporate new language clarifying and explaining to the sponsor what his/her obligations are (the affidavit is technically a legal contract) as well as legal consequences if the obligations are not met.
Of more consequence, however, are two new requirements that are not required on the current versions of the forms. Firstly, the forms will now require bank account information, presumably so that USCIS may verify financial information. And although not required, sponsors will be notified that credit reports may be submitted as optional evidence. In addition to this, forms I-864, I-864EZ, and I-864A must now be notarized prior to submission.
Should these changes go through, they will undoubtedly make what is already a complicated process (considering the new public charge requirements) even more onerous. For one thing, sponsors as well as potential joint sponsors may be hesitant to list specific bank account information, especially since they are already signing and declaring under oath that the information contained in the forms is true and accurate. The notarized signature requirement also adds an element of extreme inconvenience, especially given the covid-19 crisis and shelter-in-place orders throughout the nation. Should state governments extend lockdowns and social distancing measures, individuals may be unable to go out to sign their documents in front of public notaries. What’s more, even if restrictions are relaxed, many people may feel understandably uneasy about venturing out just to get a signature notarized and risk exposure.
Bear in mind, as well, that these new Affidavit of Support requirements are separate and apart from the Declaration of Self Sufficiency I-944 requirements, which are frankly, intimidating. Even if an intending applicant submits a properly filed I-864 from his/her sponsor with strong financial evidence, it will mean very little with an anemic or deficient I-944 now that the Declaration of Self Sufficiency takes legal precedence.
The above is general information only and not intended to serve or substitute for legal advice. It does not create or replace an attorney-client relationship, nor should it be relied upon in lieu of a consultation.