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Understanding Affidavits of Support For Family Immigration

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on December 21, 2016

Some immigrants who plan to move to the U.S. need affidavits of support filed with their petitions showing that another person who is either a U.S. citizen or resident agrees to financially support them if it becomes necessary. In order to submit an affidavit of support, the person must be at least age 18 and must have an income that is at least 125 percent of the federal poverty limit. There is an exception for members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are sponsoring minor children or spouses, however.

Active duty military members must have incomes of at least 100 percent of the federal poverty limit. An immigration attorney in Chicago believes that people should understand what affidavits of support mean before they agree to sponsor a relative.

What Affidavits of Support Mean

Normally, the person who submits an affidavit of support is also the person who petitions the government on the immigrant’s behalf. When he or she signs the affidavit, it is an agreement that he or she will financially support the immigrant until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen or has worked for at least 40 quarters, which is about 10 years. Affidavits of Support are legally enforceable, meaning that the government can force people who sign them to pay to support immigrants if the immigrants are unable to support themselves after they move to the U.S.

Income Proof and Verification

The government requires sponsors to submit proof of their claimed income to verify that they meet the financial qualifications for sponsors. This may include the gross income that is reported on the IRS 1040 or 1040A or the adjusted income if the sponsor filed a 1040EZ. People may also submit six months of pay stubs to prove their income amounts. If they have retirement income, child support or alimony that they want to claim to meet the income requirements, they may also submit proof of those.

The government will verify all of the income documentation that is submitted along with the Affidavit of Support, so it is important for sponsors to be honest. If a sponsor’s income is not enough to meet the financial requirements on its own, the sponsor may list others who live in the same household that contribute financially as well. An immigration attorney in Chicago may advise his or her client about meeting the financial requirements for sponsoring a relative who is planning to immigrate to the U.S.