If you want to sponsor someone for a family-based green card, you need to provide proof of a U.S. domicile in your Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). In other words, you need to prove that your principal residence is in the United States. In this article, we’ll explain how to prove U.S. domicile as part of your Affidavit of Support so you can successfully sponsor a family member for a green card.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Updated November 1, 2022
Proving U.S. Domicile on an Affidavit of Support
Under U.S. immigration law, intending immigrants and green card applicants must prove they will not depend on government benefits to survive. Therefore they need to show they have financial support.
Usually, family members who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and sponsoring the immigration application will submit Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support. This form is a legal contract between you and the U.S. government. You will prove that your income exceeds the national poverty guidelines so that you can support the adjustment of status or consular processing applicant. This affidavit is a legal obligation, and you cannot easily undo your sponsorship.
You will also show proof of domicile in the United States. Domicile means your country of residence. It can either indicate where you currently reside or where you plan to for the foreseeable future. If you plan to sponsor a family member or spouse for a green card, you must prove you meet the domicile requirement. You will need to show you have a principal residence at a U.S. address where you live most of the time and plan to in the future. As the primary petitioner, you must be the one to show U.S. domicile. It is not the job of the joint sponsor of the applicant.
Proving Domicile When You Currently Live Abroad
If you live in a foreign country, you must take extra steps to prove your U.S. domicile. These steps are relevant if you are living outside the U.S. temporarily, if you plan to establish your domicile before the visa applicant’s arrival, or if you have certain kinds of employment abroad.
If You’re Living Abroad Temporarily
Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents live outside the United States on a temporary basis. There is no official time limit, but petitioners need to prove they still have ties to the United States and intend to return after a limited and not indefinite period of time. The National Visa Center (NVC) or the U.S. embassy or consulate may ask you to prove the temporary nature of your stay.
People who fall within this category include students studying abroad, contract workers, or volunteers for NGOs. It would help if you emphasized that your project is only temporary to prove your intent to return. Examples of proof you could provide to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) include these supporting documents:
Voting records in the United States
Federal, state, or local tax returns
U.S. income tax returns
Proof of property in the United States
Bank accounts in the United States
Permanent mailing addresses in the United States
Evidence of temporary stay abroad authorized by another government
Proof of renewing a U.S. driver's license
Children’s registration in U.S. schools
Relevant correspondance with U.S. institutions
If You Plan To Establish Domicile in the United States…
As the sponsor, you can still qualify for domicile if you applied for an immigrant visa abroad through consular processing at a U.S. embassy and cannot claim a current residency. You need to prove that you plan to return to the United States and claim residence in the future. You can do this before or at the same time the applicant you sponsor arrives in the United States, but not afterward.
Evidence you can show to prove you plan to establish domicile includes:
Opening a U.S. bank account
Transferring money to a U.S. account
Proof of seeking employment in the United States and resignation from a foreign job
Proof of trying to rent or buy a house, apartment, or another residence in the United States, such as through correspondence with landlords, lease documents, etc
Children’s registration in U.S. schools
Applying for a social security number
Voting in U.S. elections
If You’re Employed Overseas…
If you are employed overseas with specific organizations, you can automatically claim domicile because of the nature of your employment. These organizations include:
The U.S. government, including U.S. armed forces
A U.S. institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
A U.S. firm or corporation involved in developing foreign trade and commerce with the United States
A public international organization the United States is part of by treaty or statute
Ministerial activities with a religious denomination or interdenominational missionary organization based in the United States