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Changes to Affidavit of Support Requirements

Jun 28, 2006

The USCIS published in the federal register a final rule regarding affidavits of supports (Form I-864). This form is submitted by the petitioner to sponsor a family member (and in some employment based cases) to ensure that the sponsored immigrant will not become a public charge (go on welfare) in the U.S. The final rule makes it less burdensome for sponsors and allows the sponsored intending immigrant to establish that he or she is not likely to become a public charge. Some changes include the following: each sponsor is now required to submit only his most recent tax return (rather than tax returns from the three most recent federal tax returns), pay stubs covering six months and an employment letter.

In addition, the final rule introduces new EZ Affidavit of Support (Form I-864EZ). This is a short form to be used by certain petitioning sponsors who rely on only their own employment to meet the affidavit of support requirements.

The rule also establishes (Form I-864W), which is specifically designed to standardize and make more efficient the process certain immigrants must follow to show they are not required to have an affidavit of support filed on their behalf. The requirement is eliminated in cases of sponsored immigrants who have, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of covered employment; and adopted children who will qualify for citizenship immediately upon entry under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

The rule also allows two joint sponsors per family unit intending to immigrate based on the same petition. If two joint sponsors are used, each joint sponsor is responsible only for the intending immigrant(s) listed on that joint sponsor's Form I-864.

The rule provides a more flexible definition of "household size." It allows but does not require sponsors to include as part of household size any relatives in the household who are not dependents if they complete a Contract between Sponsor and Household Member (I-864A). It also eliminates the requirement that household members must have lived in the sponsor's household for at least six months to sign this form.

The rule makes it easier for sponsors to use assets to overcome shortfalls in household income. In general, a sponsor needs to show that his household income meets 125% over the poverty guideline. If there is a shortage in the income, the sponsor can show that he has 5 times the difference available in assets. The rule has reduced the difference to 3 times the difference.

Sponsors of alien orphans intending immigrants where the orphan will acquire citizenship after admission because of adoption in the U.S. or formal recognition of the foreign adoption. The amount of required assets is reduced to the difference between the poverty guideline and actual household income.

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