As part of the U.S. temporary visa application process, you will have to prove to the U.S. government that you can afford to care for yourself while visiting the United States. You can verify this with evidence of your personal funds or have someone vouch for you financially with a declaration of support. They will file the declaration of support using Form I-134. This article explains Form I-134, who can file Form I-134, and which temporary visa applications may benefit from it. It also explains how to file Form I-134 and which supporting documents to include.
What is Form I-134?
USCIS Form I-134, or “Declaration of Support,” proves to the U.S. government that someone in the United States will financially support you while you visit the United States on a temporary visa.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to ensure that you do not become a “public charge.” In other words, they want to make sure that while you are in the United States, you won’t run out of money and need financial support from the government.
During your visa application process, you will need to prove that you have the financial resources for your stay in the United States. However, if you don’t have large enough bank account balances or assets, you may need to file Form I-134 to show someone else can support you.
Who can file Form I-134?
Your financial sponsor must meet these eligibility requirements to file Form I-134:
- They are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
- They meet 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for income level for their household size.
- They are willing to financially support you as required. They are signing a legal contract between themselves and the U.S. government. In other words, USCIS can enforce this agreement legally.
- They are willing to let immigration law officers review their finances and federal income tax returns.
Keep in mind that Form I-134 is a legal document. A U.S. consulate could ask the sponsor to pay a bond to guarantee you will comply with the visa until you leave the United States. Once you go, they will get their bond back. However, this is rare. Additionally, suppose you end up receiving U.S. government assistance during your visit. In that case, the government agency could sue your sponsor for reimbursement under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Again, this is extremely rare.
Which temporary visa applications may benefit from Form I-134?
Depending on which temporary, nonimmigrant visa you are currently seeking, Form I-134 may be more or less helpful to your visa application. Check through the following sections to see whether or not this form is essential for your temporary visa.
Individuals who come to the United States on a visitor visa need to prove that they are not planning to stay in the United States and find a job. To show this, they need to prove they can pay for their entire U.S. stay without working.
If you can prove this yourself, you don’t need to file a completed Form I-134. However, if you have trouble meeting this requirement, it can help to have a relative file Form I-134 for you. Your relative will send you the completed form, and you can present this at your visa interview at a U.S. consulate. This form will not automatically prove that you won’t become reliant on government assistance, but it can help your case.
If you plan to come to the United States on a fiancé visa or K-1 visa, some but not all consulates require the U.S. citizen petitioner to file Form I-134. However, all consulates require evidence that you won’t immediately need welfare or other government support during your 90-day stay on a fiancé visa.
Form I-134 is a more accessible version of Form I-864, which your petitioner will also need to file once you apply for adjustment of status to get a green card. Form I-864 is more complex and has higher sponsor income requirements. Your fiancé will likely need to show that they have an income that meets 125% of the U.S. Federal Poverty Requirements. Consular officers know you will later need to meet this requirement. Thus, if your local U.S. consulate requires Form I-134, it is best to show your spouse meets this 125% requirement when applying for the fiancé visa.
Diversity Visa (Green Card Lottery)
To enter on a diversity visa, you must prove you are not inadmissible or ineligible to enter the United States. There are different categories of inadmissibility that include; not meeting health requirements, or having a criminal record. If you seem likely to become a “public charge,” you will also be inadmissible.
You can disprove this by showing that you have savings, assets you can sell, sources of income that will continue after you move to the United States, or a job offer from a U.S. employer. However, if this is not enough, you may need a relative or friend who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder to prepare Form I-134 for you. You would file this with your green card application.
How to file Form I-134
Form I-134 is available on the USCIS website and does not require in-person appearance or biometrics. However, your sponsor will need to share supporting evidence and income numbers. Your sponsor can prepare the form at any time during the visa process by downloading the form and completing it in black ink.
These instructions will walk you through how to fill out the different sections:
Part 1: Information About You: Your sponsor will fill in their full name, address, social security number, and alien registration number (“A-number”) if they are a green card holder.
Part 2: Information about the Beneficiary: This part refers to you as the temporary visa applicant.
For fiancés, marital status should be “single” because you are coming to the United States to get married. Since your future spouse is your sponsor, for the “Relationship to Sponsor,” they should enter fiancé if you are a man or fiancée if you are a woman. The “spouse” line should be blank, but make sure to add information about any children immigrating with you.
For regular visa applicants, your sponsor can have any relation to you. They don’t need to be a family member, so they can be called “friend” for “Relationship to Sponsor.”
Part 3: Other Information About the Sponsor: Your sponsor will need to share information about their sources of income and places of employment. If their income alone meets the requirements, they don’t need to list their assets. However, if their income does not meet the Poverty Guideline level, they need to list their assets.
For “value of my other personal property,” the sponsor should estimate the value of any significant items they own, such as real estate, cars, jewelry, televisions, or other equipment. They do not need to provide proof of ownership. However, for a fiancé visa application, the sponsor will later have to prove ownership when you apply for a green card. It is essential to be honest.
For “Dependents Information,” the sponsor must list anyone listed on their tax returns. USCIS uses this section to determine if your sponsor is overextending themselves financially. If the sponsor has filed any other affidavit of support forms for any other immigrant or nonimmigrant, they should also file this in.
The sponsor may also want to describe if they will offer you any help with your trip, such as a place to stay, money, or other support. Fiancé visa applicants can skip this question.
Part 4: Sponsor’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature: Before your sponsor signs this form, they must ensure their answers are accurate. Any interpreter or lawyer must also sign if they helped fill out the form.
What supporting documents should you include with Form I-134?
Your sponsor will need to submit photocopies of certain documents to provide additional information about their income and financial assets. Original documents are not necessary.
The supporting documents must be in English. If they’re in a foreign language, you need to attach a certified English translation.
These documents include:
- A signed letter from an officer of the bank or financial institution that states when your sponsor opened their account, how much was deposited for the past year, and the present balance
- A signed letter from your sponsor's employer on business letterhead that provides the date and nature of their employment, the salary amount, and whether the position is permanent
- A copy of your sponsor’s last U.S. federal income tax return or a report of commercial rating concern if they are self-employed
- If applicable, a list of bonds with serial numbers, denominations, and names of owners
After your sponsor gathers this evidence, you can add it to the completed Form 1-134 and submit it. USCIS or the Department of State will contact your sponsor if they need additional information.
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