My Spouse is in the U.S.

What is a green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident?

If both the U.S. Citizen and Foreign National Spouse are in the U.S., the U.S. Citizen or Legal permanent resident (LPR) may apply for the Foreign National Spouse’s Permanent Residence through Adjustment of Status with the USCIS.

Obtaining a permanent residence / green card  through marriage can often times be the fastest way to obtain residency in the US, however approval is not guaranteed nor is it automatic.

It is very important to be aware that your marriage green card petition is scrutinized carefully by USCIS officers to ensure that your marriage is bona fide (legitimate) and that it was not entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.

What steps to I take to apply for a marriage based green card?

Once the marriage has taken place, the couple files the following with USCIS:

  • Petition for Alien Relative (USCIS Form I-130)
  • Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary (USCIS Form I-130A )
  • Application to Register Permanent Residence (USCIS Form I-485)
  • Affidavit of Support (USCIS Form I-864)
  • Permission for Work Authorization (Optional) (USCIS Form I-765)
  • Medical Examination Results (USCIS Form I-693)
  • Request for Travel Documents (Optional) (USCIS Form I-131)
  • The appropriate supporting documents
  • The USCIS Filing fees are $1,760 (over 14) and $1,285 (under 14)

Questions and Answers regarding the I-864 Affidavit of Support

Form I-864 is a legally enforceable agreement wherein the sponsor commits to providing support to the foreign national.  It is used when filing a green card by marriage to a US Citizen petition.

A signed Form I-864 Affidavit of Support creates a legally binding contract between the sponsor, the foreign national and the federal, state and local governments whose resources may be recouped should the foreign national receive any assistance from governmental agencies.

The sponsorship obligation continues until the sponsored alien naturalizes, has worked or can be credited with 40 quarters of work, leaves the United States permanently, or dies. 

The sponsor or the sponsor’s estate remains liable for any support or requests for repayment of benefits that arose before the support obligation ended.

Agencies that provide means-tested public benefits to sponsored immigrants will be able to request reimbursement from sponsors for the amount of benefits that they provide and sue them if they do not repay.

USCIS will provide information to benefit providing agencies on the names and addresses of sponsors; these agencies, not USCIS, will be involved in the enforcement of affidavits of support.

If sponsors do not provide basic support to the immigrants they bring to the United States, the sponsored immigrants may sue their sponsors.

No, divorce does not nullify the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.

Yes. The petitioner is still a sponsor and must file an affidavit of support, even if he or she cannot meet the income requirements. 

The petitioner remains fully liable, along with the joint sponsor, for any benefits the sponsored immigrant(s) may use. 

The joint sponsor must file a separate affidavit of support.

To qualify as a sponsor, you must demonstrate that your income is at least 125 percent of the current Federal poverty guideline for your household size. The Federal poverty line is updated annually and can be found on I-864P-income requirements.

If you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, and you are sponsoring your spouse or minor child, you only need to have an income of 100 percent of the Federal poverty line for your household size. This provision does not apply to joint or substitute sponsors.

Household size is the sum of:

Yourself (The petitioner – US Citizen Spouse);

Your foreign national spouse (beneficiary);

Any dependent children under the age of 21 (no matter where they live);

Any other dependents listed on your most recent Federal income tax return (no matter where they live);

All persons being sponsored in this affidavit of support,

Any immigrants previously sponsored with a Form I-864 or Form I-864 EZ affidavit of support whom you are still obligated to support.

If necessary to meet the income requirements to be a sponsor, you may include additional relatives (adult children, parents, or siblings) as part of your household size as long as they have the same principle residence as you and promise to use their income and resources in support of the intending immigrant(s). 

The relatives(s) would complete and sign form I-864A.

All sponsors must submit the following documentation with their I-864:

Proof of current employment or self employment.

A photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of a photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of your complete Federal income tax return for your most recent tax year, or an explanation if it is not submitted.

Your W-2s and/or 1099 forms for your most recent tax year.

You may also, at your option, submit a photocopy or an Internal Revenue Service-issued transcript of your complete Federal income tax returns for your second and third most recent tax years if you believe these additional tax returns may help you establish the ability to maintain your household income at the governing threshold set forth in Form I-864P, Poverty Guidelines.

If you are using the income of persons in your household or dependents to qualify as a sponsor, you must also submit a separate Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, for each person whose income you will use.

A letter from an employer including beginning date of employment, type of work performed, and wages or salary paid.

Self-employed persons are required to show a copyt of their business license (if applicable), and the self-employment schedules they filed with their income tax returns.

Yes. The sponsor would count his/her income first. If not sufficient s/he may count personal assets and/or the income and assets of qualifying household members who have signed an I-864A.

If, using all of those sources, the minimum income requirement is met, the affidavit would be “sufficient.”

The cash value of assets must equal five times the difference between the sponsor’s income and 125 percent of the poverty line for the indicated household size.

A sponsor may file a late or amended tax return to IRS. 

He or she can then submit copies of the late or amended return(s) for the year(s) in which he or she was obligated to file. 

Until such time as the late or amended return has been filed, the I-864 will be considered incomplete.