An affidavit of support is a document that must be filed on behalf of a petition in almost all family-based immigration petitions and in some employment sponsored immigration petitions. The purpose of the affidavit of support is to show that an immigrant will have financial support once in the US and will not become a burden on the state by using benefits (including food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other benefits) intended for taxpayers. If a sponsor signs an affidavit of support and the beneficiary immigrates to the US and uses some benefits, the sponsor may need to repay the costs of those benefits. However, it is important to note that the beneficiary may still be able to use some benefits, including school lunches, emergency Medicaid, treatment and immunization programs for communicable diseases, student assistance, job training initiatives, some adoption and foster care programs, Head Start programs, and some types of non-cash emergency relief.
To determine whether a petitioner may become a burden on the state, the US government sets certain income and asset requirements of sponsors. When sponsors complete an affidavit of support, they must declare income and assets to show that they meet certain requirements. They must generally provide the past three years’ worth of U.S. Federal income as well as current proof of employment. They must also declare on the form that they will support the beneficiary, with no exceptions, while the beneficiary is in the US.
In general, the requirements of an affidavit of support is that the income of your household must be at least 125% above the US poverty level for a household of your size. However, if you are actively on duty with the US military and are sponsoring an immediate family member, your household income must be at least 100% (or higher) than US poverty guidelines. You can review the current poverty guidelines on the USCIS website. It is important to note that poverty guidelines can vary by state. For example, Hawaii and Alaska have different poverty guidelines.
When calculating whether you meet the eligibility requirements for an affidavit of support, you must carefully consider two numbers: Your household income and the total number of people in your household. For the purposes of the affidavit of support, the total number of people in your household includes any dependants listed on your income tax returns, any family members living in the household, any previously sponsored beneficiaries for whom the sponsor still has a contractual obligation, and the beneficiary and his or her dependants. In terms of household income, you can count the income of the total household. That is, if both you and your spouse live at the same address and both of you work, you can list both of your incomes towards the residency requirements. Also, even though income is counted first, you can use assets towards the total and you can sign an affidavit of support with a co-sponsor, which can also make it easier to meet the financial requirements.