If you are a U.S. citizen or a green card holder, you can sponsor certain family members for a green card. One of the requirements is that you must be domiciled in the U.S. – you must either live in the U.S., or if you do not, you will have to meet one of the exceptions (see below).
Form I-864, an Affidavit of Support is a form you will have to file when filing a green card application. One of the questions on the form asks where the petitioner (you as the sponsoring individual) is domiciled.
What is domicile?
This is the country where you maintain your principal residence and where you plan to reside for the foreseeable future. Only petitioners who are domiciled in the U.S. can file Form I-864 and sponsor family members for a green card. Please note that if the petitioner is not domiciled in the U.S., getting a joint sponsor will not resolve this problem, as the main petitioner must always meet the domicile requirement.
If you are living in the U.S. at the time of submitting the Affidavit of Support and plan to live in the U.S. for foreseeable future, then establishing domicile will not be an issue.
If you are not living in the U.S. at the time you submit the I-864 form, you may still meet the domicile requirement if you meet one of the following requirements:
1) You are employed by a U.S. government or by a certain organizations
For example, you are a U.S. citizen employed by UN and you are regularly stationed abroad in this employment.
2) You are temporarily living abroad, and you have maintained your domicile in the U.S. You could submit evidence showing that:
- You left for a limited and not indefinite period of time (even extended period of time may still be considered to be temporary);
- You maintained your domicile in the U.S.
- You still have ties to the U.S., such as:
- You voted in a local, state, or federal elections
- Owning property in the U.S.
- Having bank/investment accounts in the U.S.
- Maintaining a mailing address in the U.S.;
3) You intend in good faith to reestablish your domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission or adjustment of status
In this case, you would have to demonstrate that you have already taken concrete steps to establish a domicile in the United States and will do so concurrently with the green card applicant.
Evidence you could submit to prove your intent to re-establish your residence in the U.S. can be:
- Opening a bank account
- Transferring funds to the U.S.
- Getting an employment in the U.S.
- Securing a residence in the U.S.
- Registering your children in school
You can read our blog post on the difference between a substitute and a joint sponsor here.
Please click here to find out how to begin the family based green card process.
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