As part of proving that the U.S. citizen spouse can financially support immigrant coming in on a K-3 visa, the consulate may require that petitioning spouse to fill out Form I-134, an Affidavit of Support. (This is necessary to assure the U.S. government that the immigrant is not inadmissible as likely to become a "public charge," or receive need-based government assistance.)
We provide line-by-line instructions for filling out this form and otherwise proving financial capacity below.
Line-by-Line Instructions for Form I-134
Although not all consulates require Form I-134 as part of the K-3 visa application, all will require some evidence that the immigrant will not need to go on welfare or receive other need-based government assistance in the United States. If children will be immigrating on accompanying K-4 visas, they won’t need separate Forms I-134 -- listing their names in Question 3 of the form is sufficient.
What Form I-134 doesn’t tell you is that the U.S. government can be very strict in its opinion of how much it takes to support someone. After the U.S. citizen spouse is done filling in the blanks on the form, refer to the instructions at the bottom of this article to find out whether the amount is sufficient. Because you are using the Form I-134 rather than the I-864 used by immigrant visa applicants, the petitioner needs to show an income of at least 100% of the federal Poverty Guidelines. (For the Form I-864 used by people getting immigrant visas, the petitioner needs to show an income of at least 125% of the Poverty Guidelines.) If the petitioner’s income is not sufficient, the two of you may need to show evidence of assets, or find a joint sponsor.
Paragraph 1: Self-explanatory.
Questions 1 and 2: Self-explanatory.
Question 3: This is for information about the intending immigrant.
Question 7: The U.S. citizen who must enter information about his or her employment. For “type of business” it is fine to state one’s position, such as “accountant,” or a more generic description, such as “sales.”
On the next set of lines, the U.S. citizen enters his or her income and assets. If the U.S. citizen’s income is sufficient to meet the Poverty Guidelines, the Department of State will not care about the citizen’s assets, so the U.S. citizen need not list each and every asset. The questions about assets become more important when the income of the U.S. citizen is close to or does not meet the Poverty Guidelines.
Some of the questions about assets need explanation. The question about the amount “on deposit in savings banks in the United States” can be a little misleading—amounts in checking accounts count, too. For “personal property,” the U.S. citizen does not need to consider the value of every item he or she owns. An approximate total value on his or her cars, jewelry, appliances (stereo, television, refrigerator), cameras, and other equipment will do. But when it comes time for the green card application in the United States, the U.S. citizen sponsor will have to provide proof of ownership of any assets claimed here.
Question 8: Anyone whom the sponsor has listed on his or her tax returns should be entered here.
Question 9: This question attempts to find out whether the U.S. citizen is overextending him- or herself financially. If he or she has filled in this form or Form I-864 (the Affidavit of Support used in green card applications) on behalf of any other immigrant, these lines should be filled in.
Question 10: For the reasons that underlie Question 9, the U.S. government wants to know whether the U.S. citizen is planning to sponsor anyone else, having filed a visa petition on their behalf. Even if the immigrant is the only person being sponsored, the U.S. citizen should fill in his or her name here, with a notation by the name saying “subject of this Affidavit.”
Question 11: Enter “N/A” (Not Applicable). This question is only for visitors who are truly temporary, such as tourists.
Oath or Affirmation of Sponsor: Prior to signing this form, the signer must verify that the information submitted is correct according to the best of his or her knowledge. Although prior versions of this form had to be notarized, that is no longer a requirement.
Is the Total Support Amount Sufficient?
Technically, Form I-134 only covers a temporary stay in the United States, until the immigrant gets a green card. Therefore,the consulate may not require the U.S. citizen spouse to show a specific income level—despite the fact that it asked him or her to fill out this form. Anyone using this form, however, is supposed to show a combination of income and assets that reaches at least 100% of the Poverty Guidelines. In addition, because the U.S. petitioner will have to show income/assets of at least 125% of the Poverty Guidelines when the immigrant applies for permanent residence, it may be helpful to look at that higher level now.
If the petitioner’s income level is not sufficient by itself to meet the Poverty Guidelines, here is how to tell whether your support amount is sufficient when assets are also considered.
Go back to the form you filled out and follow these steps:
1. Total up all the assets listed (everything except income).
2. Subtract the mortgages and encumbrances, and divide that total by three.
3. Add this figure to the amount of income.
4. Total up the number of people the U.S. citizen will have to support. This should include: the citizen, the immigrant, any children immigrating at the same time, and any additional persons listed in questions 8 and 9.
5. Check the Poverty Guidelines chart on Form I-864P on the USCIS website. In the left column, find the line corresponding to the number of people that the U.S. citizen is responsible for supporting. Now look at the right column. That’s the total amount of income plus assets that the U.S. government will want to see when you apply for your green card. If your U.S. citizen spouse’s income and assets (the sum you calculated earlier), it may be necessary to find a joint or household sponsor.
The good news is that by the time the immigrant reaches the U.S. green card interview, he or she will probably have had a work permit for several months, and can contribute to the household income.
Documents to Accompany Form I-134 or Otherwise Prove Sponsor's Financial Capacity
The U.S. petitioner should plan on gathering the following documents in readiness for the immigrant's K-3 appointment.
Copy of U.S. Citizen’s Most Recent Federal Tax Return
As part of proving that the U.S. spouse can support the immigrant financially, he or she will probably be asked to provide a complete copy of his or her federal tax return—from one to three years’ worth—including the W-2 slips. There is no need to include the state tax form.
The consulate prefers to see the tax return in the form of IRS transcripts (an IRS-generated summary of the return that your U.S. citizen spouse filed), which your spouse can request using IRS Form 4506T, available through the IRS website at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-829-1040. However, it is usually a wait of several weeks to get the transcript. Don’t let this hold up the immigration process. If the transcript hasn’t come by the time of your interview, simply use your U.S. citizen petitioner’s own copies of the tax return.
We’re advising you to prepare more than the minimum financial documents. Technically, you’re supposed to be asked for only one year’s tax returns, and that’s it. But because so many consulates ask for more, it makes sense to be ready with additional years’ tax returns plus a bank and employer letter.
Letter From U.S. Citizen’s Bank(s) Confirming the Account(s)
The U.S. citizen should ask all of his/her banks reported on page 1 of Form I-134 to draft simple letters confirming the accounts. The letters can be addressed to “To Whom It May Concern,” and should state the date the account was opened, the total amount deposited in the last year, and the present balance.
Banks will often (without your asking) also state an average balance. Be aware that if this is much lower than the present amount, the consulate will wonder whether the U.S. citizen got a quick loan from a friend to make the financial situation look more impressive.
Some consulates prefer to see a monthly bank statement.
With Form I-134, the U.S. citizen spouse will also need to enclose a letter from his or her employer confirming the employment and salary. Some consulates also want to see paycheck stubs.