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New DHS Rule Puts Bigger Burden on Immigrants and Sponsors

October 21, 2020

The changes to immigration policy aren’t over yet. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed changes to the Affidavit of Support, adding to the information some foreign nationals must give the government when seeking green cards.

Financial sponsors must submit the affidavit, also called Form I-864, when vouching for the entry of an intending immigrant. Historically, foreign nationals needed to find sponsors who could provide only one federal tax return. This would be considered proof of income when the government assessed whether a foreign national might become a burden on the U.S. economy if issued a green card. But the government will no longer rely on one year of tax data. It now requires multiple years of data. The new rule will increase the scrutiny and number of financial documents the government requires before it agrees that an intending immigrant has enough financial support to gain permanent residence. 

The new rule will require sponsors and household members who act as sponsors to provide:

  • Federal income tax returns for the last three years
  • Credit report with credit score
  • Bank account information

The new rule also affects those who failed to meet support obligations from a previously signed Affidavit of Support. A sponsor’s failure to meet obligations on another executed affidavit will impact the government’s decision on whether the sponsor has the means to maintain the required income threshold.

Also, the DHS will further limit who can be considered a household member who may execute the form. The DHS intends to only permit either the sponsor’s spouse or the intending immigrant with the same address.

To ensure accuracy and efficiency, the government will also revise the process for reporting judgments against sponsors and indigency determination information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The DHS intends to clarify which categories of aliens will be exempt from filing the I-864 and adds that the change-of-address requirements that apply to immigrants will also apply to sponsors and household members. On top of these changes, Form I-864 will likely be revised.

Please contact Brandon Davis, Laura N. Buck or any other member of Phelps’ Immigration team if you have any questions or need compliance advice and guidance. For more information related to COVID-19, visit Phelps’ COVID-19: Client Resource Portal.