Before granting a green card to a petitioner, the US government wants to ensure that the petitioner will not become a burden on the system of social assistance available in the US. The social benefits in the US are paid for by US taxpayers, so there is an interest in ensuring that the benefits are available for long-term residents and taxpayers of the country. In order to ensure that green card applicants do not apply for social assistance, the government does seek evidence of financial support. One type of evidence is Form I-864 (affidavit of support).
USCIS Form I-864 (affidavit of support) is required for some immigration petitions. The purpose of the form is to show that the applicant has enough money, assets, or other means of support so that they will not become a public a charge. If you are sponsoring a family member to come to the US, you will generally need to file an affidavit of support.
Form I-864 (affidavit of support) is eight pages long and also comes with instructions. Once you have completed the form, the person you are sponsoring will need to file the form and any required documentation with a consular officer or an immigration officer. Generally, the petitioner named in the form will give the form to a consular official if also filing form DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) or will give the form to an immigration officer if the applicant is filing a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
It is important to note that Form I-864 (affidavit of support) must be signed before an immigration officer, consular officer, or notary public. There is no filing fee for the form. It is also important to note that Form I-864 is a legally binding contract. Once you sign the affidavit of support, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your family member does not become a public charge. If your family member does receive public assistance, the government can legally seek to have you repay the costs of those benefits. As well, the contract is binding for many years, even if the family relationship is severed. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider before signing this contract.
You may wonder whether you can offer support to a family member by filing Form I-864. You can generally sign the form if you are above a certain level according to federal standards of poverty. Generally, your assets and income must exceed 125% of the poverty guidelines. If you are an active member of the US armed forces, your assets and income must exceed 100% of the poverty guidelines. If you have a job, you generally meet the requirements. You can also sign the affidavit with more than one sponsor to meet the requirements.