Filling Out Form I-864: Useful Guidelines

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, is required for family-based and some employment-based immigrants, serving as a legal contract ensuring financial support.
  • It should be completed accurately, signed, and accompanied by necessary supporting documents, including federal income tax documents, evidence of income and assets, proof of legal status, and additional forms for household members or joint sponsors.
  • The sponsor’s responsibilities continue until specific conditions are met, and even with a joint sponsor, the petitioner must still submit Form I-864.

According to most immigration specialists, filling out form I-864 can be a tad challenging. That’s because the form itself is rather complex, which makes it confusing. If you feel clueless and nervous about completing this form, we believe that this guide will clarify things a bit for you. We have gathered the information you should know prior to filling out the I-864.

What Is Form I-864?

Basically, form I-864 – which is also referred to as the Affidavit of Support form – is required by the law for the majority of family-based immigrants. There are some employment-based immigrants that might need it as well.

It represents a legal contract between a sponsor or petitioner, a visa applicant, and the US government. This shows that, as an immigrant, you will be financially supported, granted that you find it difficult to cope on your own. In other words, it is pretty much a back-up plan, a solution in the likelihood of financial difficulty.

How to Complete the I-864? (all forms)

Now that you know what form I-864 implies, you are most likely interested in completing it correctly. First of all, make sure that you have completed all the necessary forms on your computer.

Note that you should use capital letters when filling out the forms. Each page should be filled out accordingly. Once you check that, you should sign the form. It is also advisable to include a separate piece of paper or more if needed.

Also, on the top right corner of the sheet, you have to write down the following: your name, your US social security number, and the words – form I-864, or the right form number, for a change. Simultaneously, in the upper-right hand corner for every page, you have to write the case number. And this is applicable to form I-864 as well.

When providing additional information to more comprehensive questions, you must clarify the number of the question you are answering.

And lastly, prior to sending the documents, you should make two sets of photocopies. One set is to be sent out to the beneficiary.

Form I-864 Checklist for Petitioning Sponsor, Joint Sponsor, or Substitute Sponsor

Moving on, we would like to provide a list with the documents you need to provide in the package so that it’s easier to review them.

  • Make sure that the form I-864 is signed. Usually, in the case of family immigrant cases, the petitioner is required to sign. As for employment-based cases, the relative has to sign. It is not mandatory to notarize the form. Concurrently, as a sponsor, you must sign the form, even if a joint sponsor is required to submit form I-864 to address the income requirement. Nevertheless, when you sign the form, under perjury or penalty, you guarantee that all the information included there is correct and accurate.
  • If an affidavit features more than one intending immigrant, it is advisable to submit photocopies of the original affidavit of support. However, for them, you don’t have to provide copies of supporting documentation.
  • You also have to supply a BARCODED cover sheet, which was sent by NVC.
  • A cover letter indicating the documents included in the package, so that the reviewer finds it easy to locate them.
  • You have to provide the following: federal income tax documents, evidence of income, evidence of assets – if you rely on your assets to qualify.
  • As a petitioning sponsor, if it is applicable, you should demonstrate your active military status.
  • In the position of a joint sponsor or substitute sponsor, you must facilitate proof of your legal status. That is to say, this might be either your US citizenship status or your lawful permanent resident status.
  • If you are relying on the income of household members for qualification, you are expected to supply an additional form I-864A for every person whose income is taken into account. The petitioning sponsor and the household member alike must complete the given sections in the form and sign.
  • If you have to facilitate proof of joint residence, then you must attach documents such as a copy of the rental agreement outlining the household number’s name. You might also include copies of items pointing out the same address as the sponsor – e.g. copies of school records, driver’s license, personal correspondence, so on.
  • If the intending income of the immigrant is used, then proof should be provided according to which income will be generated from the same source.

Form I-864 Frequently Asked Questions

The next section of our guide on form I-864 consists of a series of frequently asked questions. Hopefully, our answers will provide some clarification.

Do I need to submit a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, with my green card application?

When you apply for a green card, according to the law, a sponsor should complete the form I-864 in the following conditions:

  • Employment-based preference immigrants – in the situation in which a family member or relative filled out the immigrant visa petition.
  • Employment-based preference immigrants – in the situation in which a family member is provided a significant ownership interest of five percent or more, in filing the petition.
  • Family-based immigrants

The relative responsible with filling out the visa petition – this could be the form I-130, the form I-140 or the form I-129F, will be a sponsor when it comes to the form I-864. You may refer to this relative as being a petitioning sponsor. There are some exceptions to the rule, although these cases are quite rare.

Basically, when it comes to immigrants that have 40 qualifying quarters of work in the US, they can gain US citizenship as pointed out in section 320 of the INA.

On a different note, self-petitioning widowers and widows that already have an approved form I-360 are also an exception to the rule. The same could be said about spouses and children whose application for form I-360 has been approved.

Do I qualify as a sponsor on Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

Navigating the list of requirements when it comes to I-864 is tricky. But that’s the case with most visa-related information, including K3 visa, among others. However, moving on to qualifying as a sponsor, there are several conditions one has to meet:

  • One should be a US national, a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident over the age of 18-years-old.
  • Demonstrate that the US represents his/her country of domicile.
  • One’s income should be 125 percent above the federal poverty line.

On a different note, several changes have been implemented in this respect. More specifically, residents of Alaska and Hawaii should check the new implementations regarding income requirements. That is also the case for the US armed forces.

If you want to find out the income requirements depending on the size of the household, you should consider form I-864P.

Basically, the law requires every green card application to incorporate an affidavit of support, provided by a petitioning sponsor. The relative that completed the immigrant visa petition for the intending immigrant is the petitioning sponsor.

As we’ve pointed out above, if the petitioning sponsor doesn’t have enough financial resources to be considered eligible, additional sponsors may be included.

My income is too low to be an I-864 sponsor. What can I do?

In this case, there is a possibility that the government will reject your application. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other solutions. You can resort to one of the following options:

  • Include other household members’ income – if the sponsor has a spouse, siblings, or adult children that have the same principal address, they might combine their income together. However, each member of the household that makes a contribution will have to provide a form I-864A, aside from the I-864.
  • Get a joint sponsor – the good thing is that basically anyone could have the position of a joint sponsor, and you could have two joint sponsors as an intending immigrant. Essentially, the joint sponsor doesn’t have to be related to the immigrant. But we’ll get into more detail below.
  • In order to address the income requirements, a sponsor may use his/her assets – such as houses, checking account balances, savings, so on. In this case, though, it might be advisable to collaborate with an attorney, as it can be tricky to assign value to assets.

What is a joint sponsor?

Furthermore, if the initial sponsor’s income is insufficient, there is the option of a joint sponsor. To qualify, though, one has to be a US citizen, US national or lawful permanent resident, not younger than 18years old. You may have up to two joint sponsors.

Nevertheless, even if you were to opt for a joint sponsor, this doesn’t mean that the petitioning sponsor is no longer held accountable. Basically, the petitioning sponsor is held accountable for offering financial support, as well as the joint sponsor.

As a petitioning sponsor, one is required to submit and sign the form I-864.

Let’s explain a bit the main differences between a household member and a joint sponsor – as this topic can generate a lot of confusion. The petitioning sponsor will be referred to as the main sponsor throughout the entire time frame. Since there are cases in which the joint sponsor might be a family member or relative living in the same household, the confusion between household member and joint sponsor has emerged.

As for the household member, he/she has to meet the following conditions: to be a family dependent or family member, live in the same house as the primary sponsor and be 18 years old at a minimum.

Household members are also required by the law to fill out the form I-864A. This represents a contract between the household member and the sponsor. Note that this is a separate document from the form I-864.

How long am I responsible for the beneficiary?

A sponsor’s obligations come to an end in the following conditions:

  • If the person becomes a US resident.
  • If the person no longer has a resident status and has left the US.
  • If the person has worked or is in the position to receive credit for 40 quarters of coverage as specified in the Social Security Act.
  • If the person is due to be removed in removal proceedings.
  • If the person dies.

Note that in the case of a divorce, this doesn’t exclude a sponsor’s obligations.

My relative will have a job upon arriving in the U.S. Does he still need to submit Form I-864?

Yes, in case your relative will start working upon arriving in the US, submitting the form I-864 is still necessary. Getting a job is a positive aspect, something each immigrant should strive to accomplish. Nonetheless, the law requires filling out this form in order to have a back-up plan, in the case in which financial difficulties were to happen.

I have obtained a joint sponsor, do I (the petitioner) still have to submit Form I-864 for my relative?

Yes. If you managed to find another person to act as a joint person, this doesn’t terminate your responsibility to submit an affidavit of support. And this also refers to providing the supportive documentation we have already included above. Even if your relative also has a joint sponsor, your status as the petitioning sponsor remains unchanged.


Overall, submitting the form I-864 could seem overwhelming. Nonetheless, once you do things by the book, as it is required of you, you might significantly reduce the stress associated with the process per se. Being informed always pays off, which is why Stilt strives to offer you informative, relevant articles on visa-related topics and not only.

We are also here for you if you are in need of financial help. In fact, on several accounts, we have assisted and contributed to uniting families and bringing them together. In this scenario, getting a family relocation loan that addresses your specific needs could be life-changing. Make sure you check our website to find out more!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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