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The I-864 Affidavit of Support

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we are going to discuss the I-864 Affidavit of Support. This is an affidavit of support which is associated with, for purposes of this today we are only going to be talking about spouse visas for Americans or lawful permanent residents for that matter, spousal visas. The I-864 is sort of a counter part affidavit which is associated with the K-1 Fiance Visa, that’s called the I-134 affidavit of support; they are sort of qualitatively different in force and effect that they have. The I-134 is of a more temporary nature, the I-864 is of a more permanent   nature. What is an I-864 and what is the purpose? Well basically, the purpose of the I-864 is to ascertain the financial ability of the American in question with respect to the ability to support their foreign spouse. And in the context we are talking here, one of the important things to keep in mind is “what are we talking about with ability to support and what are you signing when you sign the affidavit of support?” As part of the agreement that the sponsor on the affidavit of support makes with the United States Government, they are agreeing to basically reimburse the US Government for any moneys that the applicant in question, the beneficiary, the immigrant, so in this case let’s say the Thai spouse of an American citizen who is coming into the United States on an immigrant spouse visa. If that individual were to go on to what are called “means-tested benefits” in the United States, things like aid to families with dependent children, WIC, food stamps etc. that sponsor would be liable to the Government to reimburse the Government for the money spent on that individual’s benefits. So that’s what it’s designed to do; it’s sort of an IOU if you will, that the sponsor will pick up the tab with respect to any “means tested benefits” that that foreign beneficiary uses when in the United States. Also, a thing to keep in mind with respect to the I-864 is that it it is used to determine whether or not the American in question can support their foreign spouse and under those circumstances, it may be required that the American sponsor obtain or obtain the assistance of a joint sponsor as there are going to be certain instances where an American petitioner cannot, on their own, sponsor a foreign spouse.

There is a provision for this and you can go ahead and get a joint sponsor to come along and file a similar I-864 or in some cases the I-864a with respect to the case, and once that joint sponsor comes in, they go ahead and file and if they meet the required thresholds for the ability to financially support the threshold requirements, then under those circumstances, that individual will be able to go ahead and act as a joint sponsor; and again, they are signing the same, that  joint sponsor is signing on to the same obligation of reimbursing the Government should that immigrant beneficiary begin receiving “means tested benefits” in the United States. So it’s not something to be necessarily undertaken lightly. At the same time, I don’t know how often that really happens but I don’t think it happens overly frequently.  Another thing to keep in mind with respect to the I-864 is in the context of K-1 fiancée visas. Although you are not going to see the I-864 immediately during the visa issuance process, through consular processing, for example here in Bangkok, Thailand, at the Embassy here, in the United States, when adjustment of status needs to be undertaken, an I-864 is going to be necessary for that as well and basically at that point, the individual who previously filled out an I-134  is going to need to go ahead and fill out an I-864 and it’s going to further firm up their obligations to the government with respect to beneficiary benefits. A final thing to keep in mind with respect to the I-864.  In the event the immigrant in question naturalizes to United States citizenship, so they become a US citizen the obligations inherent in the I-864 with respect to that specific immigrant are extinguished as that immigrant would be entitled to certain benefits in their own right, not by due the fact that they are an immigrant spouse of a United States citizen. So basically naturalization extinguishes that issue into the foreseeable future I guess it could be said. So what to take away from this?  I-864, generally necessary with respect to immigrant visa cases. Different qualitatively from the I-134 and does have some rather serious ramifications with respect to obligations in reimbursing the US government with respect to benefits utilized by an immigrant spouse.