Q & A: Requirements for the New Affidavit of Support

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There is a new Affidavit of Support form required for all immigrants to the United States. Here's a "Question and Answer' update that I hope will be helpful to you.


In order to get a visa for their child, prospective parents will have to complete new form 1-864, a contractually binding affidavit of support, designed to show that the parents can financially support the child so that the child will not become a public charge. This change, which applies to all immigrants, will mean that the parents agree to reimburse any government agency or private entity that provides the child with any means-tested public benefit.

Q: How must parents show that they can support the child financially?

A: Parents will need to provide a certified copy of their federal income tax returns (including schedules, attachments, etc.) For the three most recent taxable years. To certify, the parents will sign a statement on the 1-864 that says "I certify that these copies are true and unchanged from the originals,' or words to that effect. The 1-864 must also be notarized.

Q: How much income must parents have?

A: The affidavit of support mush show that the petitioner's (parents') income is 125 percent of the poverty guidelines set annually by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Q: When do the parents submit the Affidavit of Support?

A: At the time of the visa interview, traveling parents should bring the returns with them. In the case of children being escorted, the completed form and returns should be provided to the escort, to present at the child's visa interview.

Q: Where and when can agencies and parents get the new form?

A: By the end of February, the form should be available from local INS offices, the Autofax (202647-3000) of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, or from the Bureau's Web Page at http://travel.state.gov/visa-services.html. The National Visa Center in Portsmouth, NH, will distribute the new form with routine information packets. All the consular posts will have the form as well.

Q: What about a family approved by an agency in good faith, knowing they are excellent managers and can parent well, but with very low income? (For example, a minister and his wife who have housing provided free, show low income, adopting a sibling group.) Could the visa be denied?

A: The families income must be 125% above the poverty level, or the visa for the child could be denied. In the case of a very low income, the INS might not approve the I-600A, so the process wouldn't reach the point of the visa interview. At that point, however, the parents must show "adequate means of support' via Form 1-864 and three years' worth of federal tax returns. It is possible the family could have "cosponsors' for the Affidavit of Support, such as grandparents, who would agree to the 1-864 and would then themselves be contractually liable for the support of the child.

Q: Whom can we contact with our concerns about this change?

A: The new Affidavit of Support was part of the large immigration law (which was part of a larger appropriations law) passed by Congress last fall. Joint Council will be actively discussing the impact of this new requirement on Capitol Hill. You may want to contact your Congressional representatives as well.

Credits: Maureen Evans

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