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What's an Affidavit of Support and Why do I need one?

 Posted on July 29, 2020 in Immigration

Are you requesting a green card and you are being told you need an Affidavit of Support? You’re not alone! An Affidavit of Support is a requirement for most immigrants seeking a green card and it serves to show that they have adequate financial support and are not likely to become a public charge. The document is a binding contract between the sponsor and the government to financially support the immigrant in the case that he or she is unable to support himself or herself.

Now, don’t panic! Most affidavits of support are never enforced. An affidavit of support could be enforced, however, if the immigrant requests and receives certain means-tested benefits, such as TANF (cash assistance), Medicaid, or SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Even if the immigrant meets the income requirements for these benefits, please note most would not be eligible for at least 5 years after they get their green card. Please see page 11 of this report for more information on the 5-year bar).

The affidavit of support would become effective at the time the green card is granted and is valid until one of the following conditions are met:

  • The beneficiary becomes a US citizen (most immigrants are eligible to naturalize 5 years after receiving their green card)
  • The beneficiary has 40 quarters (or 10 years) of income which has been reported to the government
  • The green card is revoked or abandoned
  • Either the sponsor or the immigrant is deceased

All petitions for alien relatives must provide an Affidavit of Support for their beneficiaries. At times, however, the petitioners are unable to meet the minimum income requirements that sponsors need. These figures depend on their household size (please see them here). For instance, a household size of two, plus the sponsored immigrant, in 2020 would need an income of at least $27,150 per year. If the petitioner does not meet the income requirement, it’s not the end of the world! A co-sponsor could be sought and this would help meet the requirement. Co-sponsors must be at least 18 years old, either US citizens or green card holders, and meet the income requirements. They don’t need to be relatives of the petitioner or beneficiary.

Regardless if you are the intending immigrant, petitioner, or co-sponsor, an Affidavit of Support can be very complicated. Make sure to discuss your situation with an experienced and reputable attorney before you submit your documents to the government.

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