What is Form I-134?


Form I-134, officially titled the “Affidavit of Support,” is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is used in the context of U.S. immigration to demonstrate that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) is willing to financially sponsor an immigrant who is seeking a visa to enter the United States.

The primary purpose of Form I-134 is to provide evidence that the visa applicant will not become a public charge and that they have adequate financial support while in the United States. The sponsor (the U.S. citizen or green card holder) is essentially making a legally binding commitment to financially support the immigrant beneficiary and ensure they do not rely on government assistance during their stay in the U.S.

Key points about Form I-134:

  • Affidavit of Support: The form is essentially a legally binding contract in which the sponsor agrees to provide financial support for the immigrant. This support includes housing, food, and other basic necessities.
  • Not for All Visa Types: Form I-134 is typically used for family-sponsored visas, such as those for immediate relatives (spouses, children, parents) of U.S. citizens. It may also be required for certain other visa categories, such as K-1 (fiancé(e)) visas.
  • Supporting Documents: The sponsor must provide supporting documentation, such as proof of income, tax returns, employment letters, and bank statements, to demonstrate their ability to financially support the immigrant.
  • Responsibility: The sponsor’s responsibility begins when the immigrant beneficiary arrives in the United States and continues until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked for 40 quarters (about 10 years), or leaves the United States permanently.
  • Binding Commitment: Signing Form I-134 is a serious commitment, and the sponsor can be held legally responsible for the financial support of the immigrant beneficiary. If the immigrant does receive certain government benefits, the sponsor may be required to reimburse the government.

It’s important to note that different visa categories have different requirements and forms associated with them. Form I-134 is specific to affidavit of support for family-sponsored and similar visa categories. Applicants and sponsors should consult the USCIS website or seek legal advice to ensure they are using the correct form and following the appropriate procedures for their specific immigration situation.


Who needs to file Form I-134?


Form I-134, the Affidavit of Support, is typically filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who wishes to sponsor an immigrant visa applicant. The purpose of this form is to demonstrate that the sponsoring individual has the financial means to support the immigrant beneficiary and is willing to provide financial assistance to prevent the immigrant from becoming a public charge in the United States.

Here are some common scenarios in which Form I-134 may need to be filed:

  • Family-Sponsored Visas: U.S. citizens or green card holders who want to bring certain family members to the United States, such as spouses, children, or parents, often need to file Form I-134 as part of the visa application process. This applies to family-sponsored visa categories like immediate relative visas (e.g., IR-1/CR-1for spouses) and family preference visas.
  • Fiancé(e) Visas (K-1): U.S. citizens who are bringing their foreign fiancé(e)s to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage typically need to submit Form I-134 as part of the K-1 visa application process.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery Winners: Immigrant visa lottery winners who are selected for the Diversity Visa (DV) program may be required to provide an Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) to demonstrate they won’t become a public charge.
  • Certain Employment-Based Visas: In some cases, when an employer is sponsoring an immigrant for an employment-based visa, they may need to provide Form I-134 as part of the visa application process.

It’s important to note that the specific visa category and the relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant beneficiary determine whether Form I-134 is required. The U.S. government uses this form to assess whether the immigrant is likely to rely on government assistance or public benefits after arriving in the United States. The sponsor must demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to support the immigrant according to the poverty guidelines set by the U.S. government.

The requirements and procedures may change over time, so it’s advisable to consult the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or seek legal counsel to ensure that you are using the correct form and following the latest guidelines for your specific immigration situation.


What documents must be submitted with Form I-134?


When filing Form I-134, the Affidavit of Support, several supporting documents must be submitted to demonstrate that the sponsor has the financial means to support the immigrant beneficiary. The specific documents required may vary depending on the circumstances and the visa category, but here is a general list of documents commonly requested:

  • Form I-134, Affidavit of Support: This is the main form that the sponsor must complete and sign.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status: The sponsor must provide evidence of their status as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder). For U.S. citizens, this can include a copy of a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or certificate of naturalization. For green card holders, a copy of the green card (Form I-551) is necessary.
  • Proof of Income: The sponsor should include documents that demonstrate their ability to financially support the immigrant. Common documents include:
    • Recent federal income tax returns (typically the last three years) with all supporting forms and schedules.
    • W-2 forms or 1099s for the most recent tax year.
    • Pay stubs or an employment verification letter to confirm current employment and income.
    • If self-employed, business tax returns and financial statements may be required.
    • If the sponsor has no income, they should provide an explanation and evidence of other means of financial support (e.g., assets, savings, a co-sponsor’s income).
  • Bank Statements: Copies of recent bank statements can demonstrate the sponsor’s financial stability and liquidity.
  • Employment Verification Letter: A letter from the sponsor’s employer on company letterhead confirming their job, salary, and employment status.
  • Asset Documentation: If the sponsor intends to use assets (e.g., real estate, stocks, bonds) to meet the financial requirements, documentation proving ownership and value of these assets should be included.
  • Affidavit of Support for Joint Sponsors: In some cases, a joint sponsor may be required if the primary sponsor’s income is insufficient. The joint sponsor should complete a separate Form I-134 and provide their own supporting documents.
  • Supporting Documentation for Specific Visa Categories: Depending on the visa category, additional documents may be necessary. For example, for K-1 fiancé(e) visas, you might need to include proof of the intention to marry, evidence of communication between the sponsor and the fiancé(e), etc.
  • Proof of Relationship: In family-sponsored cases, it can be helpful to provide documents that demonstrate the familial relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant beneficiary, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, or adoption papers.
  • Additional Evidence: Any other documents that can help establish the sponsor’s financial ability and willingness to support the immigrant.

It’s crucial to review the specific instructions and requirements provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the visa category you are applying for, as the required documents may vary. Additionally, make sure to include complete and accurate information and follow any specific guidance provided in the visa application instructions. Providing thorough and well-documented evidence can help ensure a smooth processing of the visa application.


By Jorge

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