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What is the Affidavit of Support in a family-sponsored immigration application?

By December 22, 2023Family Immigration
A family of 3

U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) to sponsor certain family members for green cards. U.S. citizens can sponsor their spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age and  their parents (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old) as immediate relatives. This means that a green card is always available to these applicants. U.S. citizens can also sponsor their unmarried and married children who are 21 and older and their brothers and sisters under preference categories. Legal permanent residents can sponsor their spouses, minor children, and adult children (21 and older, married and unmarried) under preference categories. This means there can be a wait (and sometimes a very long wait) for a green card to become available.

For any family-based petition, whether it is for an immediate relative or in a preference category, the sponsor will need to sign an Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support is filed on Form I-864 and it is a contract between the sponsoring relative and the U.S. government, where the relative attests that they have sufficient income and/or assets to support the person they are sponsoring for the green card. This is an important part of the green card application and is necessary to demonstrate that the applicant will not become a public charge in the U.S.


On form I-864, the sponsor will need to include proof that their current income is equal to or greater than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size. The U.S. government publishes updated guidelines each year. If the sponsor’s income does not reach the required amount, it is possible to use income from a household member as long as they are over 18 years old and fill out Form I-864A. You can also use the green card applicant’s income, as long as you can demonstrate that the income will continue from that source after the person gets their green card. If the green card applicant is not the sponsor’s spouse, you will also need to show that the income comes from a lawful source and that the green card applicant lives with the sponsor.


If it is not possible to meet the requirements using income, another option is to use assets to supplement the income amount. The assets can be the sponsor’s assets and can also be the green card applicant’s assets or the assets of a household member. To include an asset, it must be something that can easily be converted into cash within a year without causing financial loss or hardship to the owner of the asset. If you need to use the assets of someone in your household, they will also need to sign a form (Form I-864A) and they must be living with the sponsor.

If you need to use assets, the value of the assets must be five times the difference between the household income and 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for household size. For example, if you are a family of two and 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is $25,000 and you make $20,000/year, you would need assets that are valued at 5 x $5,000, meaning $25,000. However, if the sponsor is a U.S. citizen who is sponsoring their spouse or a child 18 or older, you can use assets that are only three times the difference between the income and 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Joint Sponsors

Another potential way to meet the requirements is to use a joint sponsor. A joint sponsor can be any U.S. citizen, green card holder, or U.S. national who is at least 18 years old or older and who has a domicile in the U.S. or its territories or possessions. The joint sponsor does not need to be related to the sponsor or the green card applicant. The maximum number of joint sponsors permitted is two and a joint sponsor must independently meet the income requirements. They cannot combine their income and assets with the other sponsor(s) to meet the requirement.

The Affidavit of Support is a key part of any family-based immigration petition. It is important to ensure that the Form is properly filled out and submitted with all required evidence, as the case cannot be approved without a properly executed Affidavit of Support.

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