Advice on the Dreaded I-864 Immigration Application
The I-864 Affidavit of Support form is used in the immigration process to verify an applicant's self-sufficiency. In other words the Government doesn't want any more welfare "leeches". My husband and I received this application about a year after we'd first applied for a family-based visa. In most cases the I-864 is the final form to be approved before the interview and medical examination. I remember paying several hundred dollars just for the filing fee, and then there is a waiting period of who knows how long before you get a notice of approval.
No joke, this application is complicated. I spent weeks working on the I-864 making sure every line was filled out and every box had the appropriate checkmark. You must make sure that all information on the I-864 matches the information of previously sent applications. Any misinformation will cause a red flag, and your application may be denied and another blank I-864 form may be mailed to you to fill out. Believe me, you do not want to do that over again. Even if you kept a copy of what you sent, you will still have to get notarizations and translations of birth certificates, letters from employers, and notarized financial information from co-sponsors all the while maintaining complete accuracy in copying every bit of biographical information you can imagine.
The hardest part of the I-864 for me was reporting income. Not because we didnít have any income, but because I raised the suspicions of my husbandís employer when I called to request a verification of his income. My husband was working illegally (and making good money), but he was let go a few weeks after I made that phone call. I felt terrible because I knew it my fault, but the application needed income verification from an employer, and I was pregnant at the time and working only part-time. Be careful when submitting your income because if it doesnít fall within the U.S. Governmentís Poverty guidelines youíre out of luck.
Thatís also when you may need a co-sponsor. A co-sponser is a person that is willing to submit their financial information in conjunction with your information in order to satisfy the poverty guidelines. By signing the form, the co-sponsor enters into an agreement with the U.S. Government basically stating that if the immigrant uses any Government funds or cannot sustain a household with regular income that the co-sponsor will step in and help by financially supporting the immigrant and repaying all funds owed to the Government that were used by the immigrant. My husband and I needed a co-sponsor. I was only working part-time while being pregnant and raising two daughters. My husband had lost his good job that we couldnít verify anyway, so my dad offered to help. (My dad has always liked my husband).
After going through this seemingly endless mess of trying to satisfy the USCI, my husband and I decided to hire a lawyer. Yep, thatís actually the best guideline of all. Plus a good lawyer like ours knows who is approving applications, how picky they are, how long they take, and almost every little known trick to submitting a successful I-864 form. Find a lawyer that has a consistently positive record for approved applications and immigration status change. I donít have to tell you that theyíll be expensive, but to my husband and I it was worth it just to be given a chance to work hard, live well, and be happy together with our girls.
I wish everyone out there good luck trying to fill out an I-864 application! Hope my info helps!
More articles can be found at my website. I invite you to read them and submit your own ideas as well. Thanks so much for your interest!