Chapter 13 - Additional Support through Sponsorship
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) created the requirement for a legally enforceable Affidavit of Support to reduce the potential for an intending immigrant to become a public charge. When required, the applicant must complete Affidavit of Support Under INA 213A (Form I-864) or Form I-864EZ.
Form I-864 is a legally enforceable contract that a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident (LPR) signs to accept financial responsibility for an alien, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. Form I-864 is legally binding and requires a sponsor to support the applicant at an annual income of no less than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). The U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or LPR who signs the Form I-864 becomes the immigrant’s sponsor once the applicant becomes an LPR.
If required, the lack of a sufficient Form I-864 results in the applicant being found inadmissible under INA 212(a)(4) without regard to consideration of the factors set forth in the statute, regulation, and this guidance.
For Form I-864 to be sufficient, a sponsor generally must demonstrate that he or she is able to maintain the sponsored alien at an annual income of not less than 125 percent of the FPG. However, a sufficient Form I-864 does not guarantee that the alien will not receive public benefits in the future and, therefore, USCIS only considers it as one factor in the totality of the circumstances. The presence of a sufficient Form I-864 does not eliminate the need to consider all of the mandatory factors in the totality of the circumstances.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines which aliens are required to have a Form I-864. Most aliens intending to immigrate or to adjust status as immediate relatives or other family-based preference categories, and in certain employment-based categories after December 19, 1997, are required to submit Form I-864 signed by a sponsor.
Aliens who are required to submit an Affidavit of Support, and are not otherwise exempt, are inadmissible on the public charge ground if they do not submit the required Form I-864.
In general, most aliens applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status based on a family relationship are required to submit Form I-864. The following table outlines applicants by immigrant category who must submit Form I-864 unless otherwise exempt:
|Immediate Relatives and Other Family-Sponsored Immigrants|
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens
U.S. citizens’ parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21, including most orphans and Hague Convention adoptees
Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older, including their unmarried children
Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs, including their unmarried children
Married sons and married daughters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and unmarried children
Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, including their spouses and unmarried children
All of these applicants are required to submit Form I-864, unless exempt from the requirement.
In general, most aliens applying for an employment-based immigrant visa or adjustment of status are not required to file Form I-864. Applicants seeking LPR status based on an employment-based petition are required to file Form I-864 if:
The petitioner is a relative of the applicant; or
These applicants are required to file Form I-864 unless an exception applies.
3. K Nonimmigrants
Principal K nonimmigrants seeking adjustment of status must submit Form I-864. This requirement also applies to an alien who seeks adjustment after having been admitted as the child of a principal K nonimmigrant.
Any applicant for adjustment of status based on a K nonimmigrant visa must submit a Form I-864 at the time of adjustment. Termination of the marriage between the K-1 beneficiary and the petitioner does not end the K-1 nonimmigrant’s eligibility for adjustment. A former spouse can still be the sponsor who submits the Form I-864 for a K-1 and a K-2 nonimmigrant to adjust status. However, if the former spouse does not submit the Form I-864, or timely withdraws one already submitted, the K-1 and K-2 nonimmigrants are inadmissible based on public charge.
A spouse or child is considered to be accompanying a principal immigrant if:
The spouse or child applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status at the same time as the principal immigrant; or
The spouse or child applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status within 6 months after the date the principal immigrant acquires LPR status.
If the principal applicant is required to have a Form I-864, then any accompanying spouse or child must also be included on that Affidavit of Support. To meet the requirement, the accompanying spouse or child must submit a photocopy of the principal applicant’s Form I-864. A photocopy of the principal’s supporting documentation, however, is not required.
When a spouse or a child of a principal applicant applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status 6 months or more after the principal immigrant, the spouse or child is considered to be following-to-join the principal.
If the principal applicant is required to have a Form I-864, then the following-to-join spouse or child must also have a Form I-864. Each following-to-join spouse or child requires a Form I-864, independent of the principal applicant’s Form I-864, at the time of adjustment of status or consular processing.
6. T and U Nonimmigrants, VAWA Self-Petitioners, and Certain Qualified Aliens Subject to Affidavit of Support
In general, INA 212(a)(4)(E) provides that the following provisions do not apply to qualified alien victims:
INA 212(a)(4)(A) (public charge inadmissibility, in general);
INA 212(a)(4)(B) (minimum factors to be considered in the public charge inadmissibility determination); and
INA 212(a)(4)(C) (inadmissibility for lack of sufficient Affidavit of Support for family-based immigrants).
A qualified alien victim includes:
A VAWA self-petitioner;
An alien who is an applicant for, or is granted, U nonimmigrant status; or
A qualified alien, such as an alien who has a pending application establishing prima facie eligibility for T nonimmigrant status or has been granted T nonimmigrant status.
When Congress created the current version of INA 212(a)(4)(E), it did not exempt qualified alien victims from the requirements under INA 212(a)(4)(D). INA 212(a)(4)(D) makes the alien inadmissible on public charge in employment-based cases, unless the alien has a properly executed Form I-864 from the alien’s relative if:
The alien’s relative filed the employment-based petition; or
The alien’s relative has a significant ownership interest (of 5 percent or more) in the business or entity that filed the employment-based petition.
If the alien does not present a Form I-864, as required under INA 212(a)(4)(D) and INA 212(a)(4)(E), then the alien is inadmissible on account of public charge.
If such an alien is required to submit the Form I-864, the applicant cannot submit a Declaration of Self Sufficiency (Form I-944) instead to establish that he or she is not a public charge. The applicant must submit a sufficient Form I-864.
Certain applicants are not statutorily required to submit a Form I-864. Other applicants, although generally required to file a Form I-864 may be exempt from this requirement. Being exempt from the Form I-864 requirement is different from being exempt from the public charge inadmissibility ground.
An officer still makes an inadmissibility determination for an applicant who is exempt from the Affidavit of Support filing requirement unless the alien is also exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. For a listing of categories subject to or exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility and the Affidavit of Support requirement, see:
An alien who has earned or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters (credits) of work in the United States under the Social Security Act (SSA) is exempt from the requirement to file a Form I-864. A quarter, as defined by the Social Security Administration, is a period of 3 calendar months ending on March 31, June 30, September 30, or December 31.
An alien can acquire 40 qualifying quarters through any of the following circumstances:
Any quarter during which the alien works lawfully in the United States, as long as the alien received the minimum income established by the Social Security Administration during the entire quarter;
Being credited with quarters the alien spouse lawfully worked during the marriage;
Being credited with any quarters during which the alien was under 18 years of age and his or her parent lawfully worked; or
A combination of the above.
Since 1978, quarters are based on total wages and self-employment income earned during the year, regardless of the months during the year the actual work was performed. An applicant can earn all four credits for the year in less time if the applicant earns the required income.
For example, in 2014, a person must have earned $1,200 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $4,800 to get the maximum four credits for the year. A person who earns $4,800 in 2014 earns all four credits for the year regardless of how long that year it took to earn the income.
An officer does not need to calculate an applicant’s quarters. An applicant who claims he or she can be credited with sufficient quarters of coverage must submit official Social Security records to support the claim.
The following self-petitioning immigrants are exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement:
Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), children born abroad to U.S. citizens may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon admission to the United States or adjustment of status to that of an LPR. If qualified for automatic acquisition of citizenship, the child is exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement.
The CCA has specific provisions for alien children adopted by U.S. citizens. An alien child adopted by U.S. citizens, such as an orphan or Hague Adoptee (IR-3 or IH-3 classifications), automatically acquires U.S. citizenship if the child enters the United States prior to his or her 18th birthday. Therefore, these children are exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement.
However, this exception does not apply if:
The child is “coming to be adopted” as an orphan or Hague Adoptee (IR-4 or IH-4 classification); or
The child is admitted as an immediate relative immigrant as the stepchild of a U.S. citizen.
Any applicant for adjustment of status who filed Form I-485 prior to December 19, 1997, is exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement. The exemption is dependent on the filing date and applies even if USCIS conducts the interview or adjudicates the case after that date.
The following are examples of categories of immigrants who are exempt from the Affidavit of Support Requirement:
Special immigrant juveniles;
Applicants for registry;
Employment-based immigrants, unless the visa petition was filed by a relative or a relative’s firm;
Refugees and asylees at time of adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident status;
Aliens granted U nonimmigrant status;
Haitians adjusting status under the Help Haiti Act of 2010; and
Certain qualified aliens.
For a full list of categories of immigrants who are exempt, see Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Family-Based Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Special Immigrant Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Refugee, Asylee, and Parolee Adjustment of Status Applications; and Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Other Applicants.
Aside from the requirements under INA 212(a)(4) to have a sufficient I-864, USCIS also reviews the I-864 as a factor in the totality of the circumstances. A sufficient I-864 alone does not necessarily result in a finding that an alien is not likely at any time to become a public charge due to the statute’s requirement to consider the mandatory factors. USCIS does not review a submitted Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) as a factor in the public charge inadmissibility determination.
When considering the Form I-864 in the totality of the circumstances for the public charge inadmissibility determination, USCIS reviews the likelihood that the sponsor would actually provide the 125 percent of the FPG financial support to the alien including, but not limited to, consideration of the following:
The sponsor’s annual income, assets and resources;
The sponsor’s relationship to the applicant, including whether the sponsor lives with the alien;
The likelihood that the sponsor would actually provide the statutorily required amount of financial support to the alien; and
Whether the sponsor has submitted an Affidavit of Support with respect to other aliens.
The more support provided, the greater the positive weight given in the totality of the circumstances.
USCIS reviews the annual income of the sponsor providing support, including through employment, to determine if he or she is able to support the applicant. Under the statute, the minimum income to establish a sufficient Form I-864 is generally 125 percent of the FPG based on the sponsor’s household size plus the total number of sponsored immigrants and dependents supported by the sponsor.  A sufficient Affidavit of Support is a positive consideration in the totality of the circumstances. However, USCIS considers other relevant factors related to the sponsor’s ability to support their household and the sponsored alien(s) even if his or her income meets the 125 percent of FPG threshold. An officer should give greater positive weight to a Form I-864 submitted by a sponsor who has greater income and assets available than the minimum required by the statute.
In addition, a person providing support may demonstrate an ability to provide for the applicant through assets and resources. The person providing support must establish the location, ownership, value, and liquidity of each asset or resource including any liens or liabilities for each asset that is intended to support the applicant.
An officer should review the nature, amount, and availability of assets or resources when assessing this factor. Officers may review assets that are easily converted into cash within 12 months that may be used to support the person's household and the applicant. An officer should give greater positive weight to sizeable assets that are readily convertible to cash.
Receipt of Public Benefits
If the sponsor who executed Form I-864 has received public benefits, this may negatively impact the sponsor’s ability to meet his or her support obligations, because it indicates that the sponsor may not be financially stable. Accordingly, if the evidence reflects that this sponsor received public benefits, even if the Form I-864 is sufficient, this decreases the positive weight of the factor in the totality of the circumstances.
Fee Waivers for Immigration Benefits
If the sponsor who executed Form I-864 has received a fee waiver from USCIS for an immigration benefit, this may also negatively impact the sponsor’s ability to meet his or her support obligations because it indicates the sponsor may not be financial stable. Accordingly, if the evidence reflects that this sponsor received public benefits, even if the Form I-864 is sufficient, this decreases the positive weight of the factor in the totality of the circumstances.
USCIS looks at how close of a relationship the sponsor has to the applicant, as close family members may be more likely to meet the support obligations and are given greater positive consideration in the totality of the circumstances. If the sponsor lives with the alien, a greater positive weight will be given to the factor in the totality of the circumstances consideration, as this could be indicative of the sponsor’s ability to meet his or her sponsorship obligation.
Even if the Form I-864 is sufficient, USCIS nonetheless considers the sponsor’s ability or willingness to meet his or her support obligation. To the extent that the initial evidence submitted by the sponsor is insufficient to make this determination, USCIS requests additional information from the sponsor or interviews the sponsor to determine whether the sponsor is willing and able to meet his or her support obligation. Lack of likelihood of actual support from the sponsor is given less positive weight in the totality of the circumstances consideration.
Officers may consider the factor less positively when the sponsor:
Has received public benefits in the United States;
Has had previous bankruptcies; or
Has received a fee waiver for immigration benefits.
As part of the totality of the circumstances review, USCIS looks at whether the sponsor has submitted Form I-864 with respect to other applicants, as this may be indicative of the sponsor’s willingness or ability to meet his or her obligations. This information is found on Form I-864 and an officer may also review any available systems to determine if the sponsor has submitted another Form I-864. Sponsoring multiple unrelated applicants may decrease the positive weight of the factor.
The following table provides a list of relevant considerations that may provide or more less positive weight to the Affidavit of Support factor.
More Positive Weight
Less Positive Weight
Officers review Form I-864 and any supporting documentation, as well as any available systems.
[^ 2] A sponsor may use Form I-864EZ if the sponsor is the Form I-130 petitioner, there is only one beneficiary on the Form I-130 petition, and the income the sponsor is using to qualify is based entirely on the sponsor’s salary or pension and is shown on one or more Forms W-2 provided by the sponsor’s employer(s) or former employer(s). Hereinafter, any references to the Form I-864 also include the Form I-864EZ.
[^ 7] See INA 213A. A sponsor who is on active duty (other than active duty for training) in the U.S. armed forces and who is petitioning for a spouse or child only has to demonstrate the means to maintain an annual income equal to at least 100 percent of the FPG.
[^ 18] Even though an Affidavit of Support is not required, an officer still makes a public charge determination when assessing the applicant’s admissibility, unless the applicant is exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility.
[^ 19] For employment-based cases, an Affidavit of Support is required only if the intending immigrant will work for a relative who is eligible to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), on behalf of the intending immigrant. For purposes of the Affidavit of Support, a relative is defined as a U.S. citizen or LPR who is the intending immigrant’s spouse, parent, child, adult son or daughter; or a U.S. citizen who is the intending immigrant’s brother or sister. See 8 CFR 213a.1.
[^ 20] An entity includes any petitioning for-profit entity such as a business or corporation.
[^ 23] See 8 CFR 213a.2(a)(2)(i)(A). K nonimmigrants include the fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens and their accompanying children, alien spouse of a U.S. citizen and their accompanying minor children, and step-children of U.S. citizens. A child has to be under 21 years of age. See INA 101(b).
[^ 25] Such as federal income tax return transcripts, W-2, and employment verification.
[^ 33] See Chapter 3, Applicability [8 USCIS-PM G.3]; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Family-Based Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Employment-Based Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Special Immigrant Adjustment of Status Applications; Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Refugee, Asylee, and Parolee Adjustment of Status Applications; and Appendix: Applicability of INA 212(a)(4) to Other Applicants.
[^ 40] However, quarters cannot be counted more than once even if there are multiple circumstances that apply to make a quarter qualifying.
[^ 47] See INA 320. For more on children acquiring citizenship under the CCA, see Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 4, Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship after Birth (INA 320) [12 USCIS-PM H.4].
[^ 49] An IR-4 or IH-4 immigrant becomes a citizen under INA 320 only when the adoption is finalized after admission and all eligibility requirements are met. See Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States.
[^ 50] The stepchild of a U.S. citizen does not acquire citizenship under INA 320. See Acevedo v. Lynch, --- F.3d ----, 2015 WL 4999292 (9th Cir. 2015). See Matter of Guzman–Gomez (PDF), 24 I&N Dec. 824 (BIA 2009).
[^ 52] A winner of the diversity visa lottery has no petitioner. A diversity visa immigrant does not need to file an Affidavit of Support but is still subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility.
[^ 54] Registry is a section of immigration law that enables certain aliens who have been present in the United States since January 1, 1972, the ability to apply for lawful permanent residence even if currently in the United States unlawfully. See INA 249 and 8 CFR 249.
[^ 63] See INA 213A. A sponsor who is on active duty (other than active duty for training) in the U.S. armed forces and who is petitioning for a spouse or child only has to demonstrate the means to maintain an annual income equal to at least 100 percent of the FPG.
10 U.S.C. 504(b) - Citizenship or residency
15 U.S.C. 1681 - Congressional findings and statement of purpose
21 U.S.C. 802 - Definitions
21 U.S.C. 841 - Prohibited acts A
22 CFR 40.51 - Labor certification
29 CFR 570 - Child labor regulations, orders and statements of interpretation
29 U.S.C. 213(c) - Child labor requirements
31 U.S.C. 9304-9308 - Sureties and surety bonds
31 U.S.C. 9305 - Authority and revocation of authority of surety corporations
38 U.S.C 1965 - Definitions
42 CFR 34.4 - Medical notifications
42 U.S.C. 1382c (PDF) - Definitions
42 U.S.C. 413 - Quarter and quarter of coverage
42 U.S.C. 416(l) - Retirement age
7 CFR 273 - Certification of eligible households
8 CFR 1.2 - Definitions
8 CFR 1.3 - Lawfully present aliens for purposes of applying for Social Security benefits
8 CFR 1003.14 - Jurisdiction and commencement of proceedings
8 CFR 1003.1 - Organization, jurisdiction, and powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals
8 CFR 103.6 - Surety bonds
8 CFR 204.5 - Petitions for employment-based immigrants
8 CFR 212.20-212.23 - Applicability of public charge inadmissibility; Definitions; Public charge determination; Exemptions and waivers for the public charge ground of inadmissibility
8 CFR 212.21(b) - Public Benefits
8 CFR 212.4 - Applications for the exercise of discretion under section 212(d)(1) and 212(d)(3)
8 CFR 213.1 - Admission under bond or cash deposit
8 CFR 213a - Affidavits of support on behalf of immigrants
8 CFR 235 - Inspection of persons applying for admission
8 CFR 245.11 - Adjustment of aliens in S nonimmigrant classification
8 CFR 292 - Representation and appearances
8 CFR 293.1 - Computation of interest
8 U.S.C. 1363 - Deposit of and interest on cash received to secure immigration bonds
8 U.S.C. 1601-1646 - Restricting welfare and public benefits for aliens
8 U.S.C. 1611 (PDF) - Aliens who are not qualified aliens ineligible for Federal public benefits
8 U.S.C. 1612 (PDF) - Limited eligibility of qualified aliens for certain Federal programs
8 U.S.C. 1613 (PDF) - Five-year limited eligibility of qualified aliens for Federal means-tested public benefit
8 U.S.C. 1641 (PDF) - Definitions
Final Specification of Community Programs Necessary For Protection Of Life Or Safety Under Welfare Reform Legislation, 66 FR 3613 (Jan. 16, 2001) (Final rule)
INA 101 - Definitions
INA 101(a)(15) - Nonimmigrant classifications
INA 201 - Worldwide level of immigration
INA 203 - Allocation of immigrant visas
INA 208 - Asylum
INA 212(a)(4) - Public charge
INA 212(d) - Temporary admission of nonimmigrants
INA 213 - Admission of certain aliens on giving bond or undertaking; return upon permanent departure
INA 235 - Inspection by immigration officers; expedited removal of inadmissible arriving aliens; referral for hearing
INA 237(a)(5) - Public charge (deportable aliens)
INA 245(j) - Adjustment to permanent resident status
INA 289 - Application to American Indians born in Canada
Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, 84 FR 41292 (Aug. 14, 2019) (Final rule)
Pub. L. 104-193 (PDF) - Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996
Pub. L. 104-208 (PDF) - Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
Pub. L. 106-395 (PDF) - Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Pub. L. 111-293 (PDF) - Help Haitian Adoptees Immediately to Integrate Act of 2010
Pub. L. 111-8 (PDF) - Section 602(b), Title VI of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009
Pub. L. 113-4 (PDF) - 127 Stat 54 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013
Pub. L. 89-732 (PDF) - Cuban Refugees Adjustment of Status
Section 11, 26 Stat 1084 (PDF) of the Immigration Act of 1891
Section 212(a)(15), 66 Stat 163 (PDF), 183 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952
Sections 1-2, 22 Stat 214 (PDF) of the Immigration Act of 1882
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.
This update incorporates into Volumes 2, 8, and 12 policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced February 5, 2020, implementing the Inadmissibility of Public Charge Grounds Final Rule. This guidance is in effect as of February 24, 2020 and applies nationwide to all applications and petitions postmarked on or after that date. Certain classes of aliens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as refugees, asylees, certain VAWA self-petitioners, U petitioners, and T applicants) and therefore, are not subject to the Final Rule. For more information about the classes of aliens who are exempt from the Final Rule, see the appendices related to applicability. For information on related litigation affecting implementation, see our page on the injunction.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address the final rule on the public charge ground of inadmissibility. This policy guidance is effective on February 24, 2020, and will apply to all applicants and petitioners filing applications and petitions for adjustment of status, extension of stay, and change of status, except for applicants and petitioners in the State of Illinois, whose cases will be adjudicated under prior policy, including the 1999 Interim Field Guidance (PDF) and AFM Ch. 61.1. For additional information, see Public Charge Inadmissibility Determinations in Illinois. Certain classes of aliens are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility (such as refugees, asylees, certain VAWA self-petitioners, U petitioners, and T applicants) and therefore, are not subject to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule. For more information about the classes of aliens who are exempt from the final rule, see the appendices related to applicability.
This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].