It is very important to fill the right affidavit of support for your application. Generally speaking, whatever immigration or visa petition you are filing, it will be indicated which form you need to complete, but as a rule of thumb, you will need to complete USCIS form I-134 for non immigrant visas like for tourism, but if you are going to sponsor a family member for a green card or permanent residency, then you will need to complete Form I864. In this article, I will give you step-by-step directions using an example of a man with his wife, sponsoring his sister and her son to immigrate legally to the United States from Australia.
So what will you need to get started? Well, since this is an affidavit of support, you will need to have all your financial information handy, including latest statements from banks, mortgage, brokerage account, tax returns for last three years, etc. Also, I strongly suggest that you download the most recent version of the form from the USCIS website, save it to your hard driver, complete it on the computer, and then print it so that all you need to do is to sign it. Attach all the supporting documents and you are done. Needless to say that make sure that you type it carefully not making mistakes with numbers and read it a few times, preferably with the help of another person, to confirm that all entries are correct.
Part 1. Basis for filing affidavit of support
In 1, type your name. Below that, check one of the items from a to f. If you are the petitioner, then check a. b and c are for non-family situations and I am not discussing them here. d and e are for those cases where there are joint sponsors. f is applicable when the original petitioner has passed away and you are taking over the responsibility.
Part 2. Information on the principal immigrant
Questions 2-5 are really straightforward and you can do that easily. For item #6, enter the A# or alien number often given to many immigrants who have ever filed an immigration petition with the USCIS. There is a possibility that the immigrant already has a Social Security number assigned by the United States Social Security Administration. This is a unique number that remains the same for life, and is yours to keep even if you depart the United States forever. Note that this number is different from ITIN and that should not be entered here. Also, if you ever illegally used a false SSN or that of someone else, do not enter it here. Enter only your legally assigned number. Obviously, if none was ever assigned, leave it blank.
Part 3. Information on the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring
According to US law, some aliens maybe able to bring along their spouse and minor children when they are sponsored for an immigrant visa to the United States. In this example, we are going to assume that the US citizen is sponsoring her sister and she will bring along her minor son. By checking #8, you also provide the name of the other immigrant. It can get a bit tricky here so you have to be careful. For instance, you can sponsor only one of the immigrants and other people can sponsor the other immigrants, but for the sake of simplicity we are assuming that the US citizen is sponsoring both immigrants.
Part 4. Information on the sponsor
This section is about you. It is really simple to provide basic information about you and you should be able to complete it yourself. In any case, I have an example here.
Part 5. Sponsor's household size
This section aims to figure out that with the income and assets you have, will you be able to support the people you are planning to sponsor, till they are able to become self-dependent either by virtue of working or if they become naturalized citizens.
In item 21a, enter the total number of individuals you are sponsoring. We are assuming that our sponsor is married with one child, so in h, we will have a total household size of 5. This is the way to do it even though the immigrant does not plan to live with you.
Part 6. Sponsor's income and employment
Assuming that you have a regular job, then in 22a, write down your title and name of your company. If you are self employed that is fine too and you can simply write something like "IT consultant." If you are retired or unemployed that is fine as well and has no impact on the application as long as you have the assets and income to justify supporting the immigrant.
In question number 23, write down your annual income. Repeat the number in 24a. There is nothing wrong with including a family member's income and in this example, we list the income of the wife. In c, just add all the incomes. The wife should complete USCIS Form I864A which is similar to this wife and the idea to complete it separately, rather than just sign it here, is to make sure that the information is collected in a different document and not all the document needs to provided there.
In 25, it is important that you check it and I am assuming that you are meticulous about doing your tax returns. If you have a tax mess with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for example, not filing a return or owing taxes, then, it is best to discuss with an attorney if you should sponsor an immigrant because not only are you jeopardizing the immigrant visa petition, you maybe in legal trouble yourself. In case you are clear, then for the last three tax years, from your copies of your Form 1040EZ, copy your adjusted gross income (AGI). DO NOT enter your actual income here because that is going to be much higher. In case you are not aware, AGI is the income that is after you have taken out all the deductions and is the one that is actually taxed. It is important to get this number right because the USCIS will crosscheck this with the IRS records. Just to make things easier for the USCIS officer, just attach copies of these tax return and put a cross in the box.
Part 7. Use of assets to supplement income
Now, this part is optional if you have sufficiently higher income, which would be the case for most of you, but I am demonstrating how to complete this as well, just in case, you have low income or are retired or unemployed. In that case, you can use your assets to justify that you are financially capable of supporting an immigrant.
In 26a, simply add up all your money in the bank.
In 26b, come up with the best home value (if you don't know what your home is worth, you can look at your property tax statement from the town and use the assessed value number from there) and then take out whatever is the balance left on your mortgage (the number should be on your monthly mortgage bill or you can call your bank to find out) and that is basically your equity in the home. In c, add up things like brokerage account balance, boats, jewelry, etc. d is the sum of all these. If you are planning to use assets of a family member, they can be indicated in question #27.
Let us also assume that the immigrant you are assuming is also someone who has money. You will notice that items 28 a, b, and c are similar to those in question number 26 for you. The idea here is to include all the assets that immigrant will be able to transfer to the United States for living expenses, and thus, the immigrant will be able to support herself.
In 29, add up all the assets.
Part 8. Sponsor's contract
Read this part very carefully. You are basically entering into a formal contract with Uncle Sam and if you don't meet your side of the agreement, you will be in court, your income will be garnished by the State, and your assets can be repossessed till every penny is paid. So give it some thought before you sign this document. You have probably already had this conversation with the person you are sponsoring but you may want to think if the individual will be able to find a job in the United States, is someone responsible, and is willing to work hard to make a living. Maybe you have assets and income now but in a few years you may lose your job and might need your savings for yourself and if the immigrant is unable to keep a job or is unable to find one, you may not be able to support these people. So think hard and fast about the long term.
If you think you have given it enough thought, that the immigrant is a good person, then print the form, date and sign it. Attach evidence to support all the claims that you have made, and you are done.