Responsibilities and Obligations of a Sponsor
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, is a legally binding contract between a sponsor and the U.S. Government. In order for any contract to be valid, in exchange for the obligation, there should be a consideration. The intending immigrant's becoming a permanent resident is the "consideration" of the contract. If you do not understand your obligations, you should consult an immigration attorney.

You must show on this form that you have enough income and/or assets to maintain the intending immigrant(s) and the rest of your household at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (100 percent if you are the petitioning sponsor and are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and the person is your husband, wife, unmarried child under 21 years old.

Under this contract, you agree that, in deciding whether the intending immigrant can establish that he or she is not inadmissible to the U.S. as an alien likely to become a public charge, the U.S. Government can consider your income and assets to be available for the support of the intending immigrant.

When you sign the Affidavit of Support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) during the obligation duration, as described below. Any joint sponsors or household members whose income is used to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant. When you sign I-864 Form, you are agreeing to use your resources to support the intending immigrant(s) named in this form, if it becomes necessary.

Your income and assets may be considered ("deemed") to be available to the intending immigrant, in determining whether he or she is eligible for certain Federal means-tests public benefits and also for State or local means-tested public benefits, if the State or local government's rules provide for consideration ("deeming") of your income and assets as available to that person. In other words, the submission of this form may make the sponsored immigrant ineligible for those benefits.

If you do not provide sufficient support to the person who becomes a permanent resident based on the Form I-864 that you signed, that person may sue you for this support.

If the immigrant receives any "means-tested public benefits," you are responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency can sue you in court to get the money owed. When in doubt, ask the benefit provider whether the benefit is a "means-tested public benefit."

If you are sued, and the court enters a judgment against you, the person or agency that sued you may use any legally permitted procedures for enforcing or collecting the judgement. You may also be required to pay the costs of collection, including attorney fees.

You should also read the details about the health care options for new immigrants to the U.S.

Means-Tested Public Benefits
Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits. To date, Federal agencies administering benefit programs have determined that Federal means-tested public benefits include Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

State Means-Tested Public Benefits. Each State will determine which, if any, of its public benefits are means-tested. If a State determines that it has programs which meet this definition, it is encouraged to provide notice to the public on which programs are included. Check with the State public assistance office to determine which, if any, State assistance programs have been determined to be State means-tested public benefits.

Programs Not Included: The following Federal and State programs are not included as means-tested benefits: emergency Medicaid; short-term, non-cash emergency relief; services provided under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts; immunizations and testing and treatment for communicable diseases; student assistance under the Higher Education Act and the Public Health Service Act; certain forms of foster-care or adoption assistance under the Social Security Act; Head Start Programs; means-tested programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and Job Training Partnership Act programs.

Obligation Duration
I-864 is a commitment to act as the financial sponsor of the applicant, once he/she arrives in the United States and your financial responsibility continues for the person who becomes a permanent resident based on a Form I-864 that you signed until that person:
  • Becomes a U.S. citizen;

  • Has worked, or can be credited with, 40 quarters (usually 10 years) of coverage under the Social Security Act; In certain cases, the work of a spouse or parent adds qualifying quarters

  • Ceases to be a lawful permanent resident and departs the U.S.

  • Becomes subject to removal, but applies for and obtains in removal proceedings a new grant of adjustment of status, based on a new affidavit of support, if one is required; or

  • Dies.

Divorce does not end the sponsorship obligation.

Your obligation under a Form I-864 also ends if you die. That means, your estate will not be required to take responsibility for the person's support after your death. Your Estate may, however, be responsible for any support that you owed before you died.

Obligation of household member (who signed Form I-864A) and joint sponsors end at the same time the obligation of the petitioning sponsor ends.

Sponsor's Change of Address
If you change your address after you become a sponsor, you are required by federal law to notify the USCIS within 30 days of the change, by filing USCIS Form I-865, Sponsor's Notice of Change of Address. You will need to send it to the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over your new address.

Your need to continue to notify USCIS of change of each address until your obligation as a sponsor ends. This is required so that the government can continue to contact you regarding fulfilling your obligations. If you fail to notify the USCIS of your change of address, you may be fined anywhere from $250 to $5,000.

Do not complete the Form I-865 at the same time you complete the I-864. Form I-865 should be filed only if the original address listed on Form I-864 has changed.

For permanent resident sponsors, this requirement is in addition to filing Form AR-11 for reporting a change of address.

You should send Form I-865 to the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over your current residence.

You should make a copy of the completed Form I-865 and save it with the evidence that you sent the original Form I-865 to the correct USCIS office and USCIS received the original Form I-865. USCIS will accept this documentation as proof that you complied with the requirement to file Form I-865. Evidence can be USPS certified mail receipt, Express Mail shipping mail along with a return receipt, both bearing postmarks and the address where you mailed Form I-865. If you sent Form I-865 using a private courier, you should keep a copy of the shipping label, and signature proof of delivery.

Use and Share of Information
The information provided in the affidavit of support will be used primarily by an immigration judge, USCIS or a Consular Officer to make sure that the sponsor has adequate means of financial support and intending immigrant(s) will not become a public charge.

This information may also be disclosed to other Federal, State or local agencies providing means-tested public benefits for use in civil action against the sponsor for breach of contract.

Social Security numbers may be verified with the Social Security Administration. It may also be disclosed to other Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement and regulatory agencies to enable these entities to carry out their law enforcement responsibilities.