Affidavits of Support & Legal Eligibility for Non-Immigrant Visas
A foreign national who is seeking a temporary visa to come to the U.S. will need to prove that they will not need to find a job in the U.S. and will not seek public benefits while they are here. In other words, they must show the consular officer that they can pay for the costs of the trip and related expenses. Sometimes the foreign national will stay with a friend or family member in the U.S. This person may be able to bolster the foreign national’s visa application by completing USCIS Form I-134, known as the Affidavit of Support. The form assures that the U.S. friend or family member will provide financial support for the foreign national while they remain in the U.S. A properly completed Form I-134 can override a finding that the foreign national will not be able to afford their expenses and may become a public charge.
The friend or family member should not submit Form I-134 to USCIS on their own. Instead, they should send it to the foreign national to integrate with their visa application. The foreign national may need to bring it to the U.S. consulate. The version that you send should be the original rather than a copy. The foreign national will handle the rest of the process.
You should supply two copies of additional documents submitted with the Form I-134, and you should also keep your own copies of these documents. To support the statements on the form, you will need to provide evidence of your income. This might simply consist of your most recent federal income tax form. (You do not need to provide state tax forms.) You can get a tax transcript through the IRS website. If you do not have time to receive and submit the transcript, you can substitute a signed copy of your tax return.
Form I-134 Supporting Evidence
1A signed letter from a bank
2A signed letter from an employer
3A copy of the most recent federal tax return
4A list of bonds (if applicable)
Also, you can supplement the tax form with letters from your employer and bank. The letter from your employer should state the type of position that you hold, the length of time that you have worked for your employer, and your salary. Your supervisor or someone in your employer’s human resources department should write and sign the letter on official company letterhead, if available. The bank also should use official letterhead for its letter, which will confirm the existence of your account and provide the average balance in the account, the current balance, the date when the account was opened, and the total cash deposited in it during the previous year. You can supplement the bank letter with bank statements.
In unusual situations, you might submit copies of the deed to your home, the title to your vehicle, and receipts for substantial purchases. These types of evidence are generally superfluous.
Potential Drawbacks to Consider
By signing Form I-134, an individual agrees to financially support the foreign national during their stay.
You may be on the hook for the cost of providing public benefits to the foreign national if they need them after all. The agency that provides benefits has the right to sue you for this amount. Also, it may consider your income and assets in any determination of benefits. This would arise only if the foreign national applies for public benefits during the intended duration of their stay in the U.S. Form I-134 does not make you responsible for financially supporting the foreign national if they overstay their visa or need to extend their stay.
However, you may not need to worry about these issues, since most foreign nationals who come to the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa for a short stay will not be eligible for public benefits. Even if they apply for them, they probably will not receive them. The government also probably will not find it worthwhile to sue an individual on the basis of an I-134 violation. The form thus is somewhat toothless as a legally enforceable document, and submitting it does not carry a great risk.