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What You Need to Know: Affidavits of Support and Means-Tested Public Benefits

The following information applies to those who have currently or will sponsor an immigrant, or otherwise agree to make your income and assets available to help sponsor an immigrant by filing:

·  Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA;

·  Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act; or

·  Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.

Basic Background

The Presidential Memorandum from May 2019 on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens emphasizes that certain requirements apply to you if you are the sponsor or the provider of financial support to an immigrant. U.S. immigration law has required that Sponsors of aliens sign an Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act, pledging financial support for the sponsored immigrant. By signing and submitting this affidavit or a Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, you agree to use your financial resources to support the immigrants named on the forms and to reimburse the cost of any means-tested public benefits that the sponsored alien receives while your obligation is in effect. 

What are Means-Tested Benefits?

Means-Tested Benefits are programs that aid those who met the requirements for support, these are typically decided on a basis of income. Means-Tested Benefit programs are available to people who can demonstrate that their income and capital are below a certain level. Means-tested public benefits include Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program “SNAPS” (formerly known as Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the State Child Health Insurance Program. See 8 CFR 2131.1. Means-Tested Public Benefits can be administered by federal, state, local or tribal agencies, and the rules regarding reimbursement apply to each level of government.

Reimbursing Means-Tested Public Benefits

Sometimes, sponsored immigrants apply for and receive means-tested public benefits. However, sponsored immigrants may be ineligible for certain means-tested public benefits because the agency will consider your resources and assets, and those of your household members, when determining the immigrant’s eligibility for the benefits. This is called “income deeming.”

If an immigrant named on your affidavit of support receives a means-tested public benefit while the affidavit is enforceable, you, as the sponsor, will be responsible for reimbursing the agency providing the benefit. Simply put, if the immigrant being sponsored has not yet become a citizen or has not reached 40 quarters of work (10 years working in the U.S.), then you as the sponsor are still responsible financially for all those named on the affidavit. If the sponsored immigrant applies for means-tested public benefit and receives those benefits, you as the sponsor will be solely responsible for reimbursing the agencies for the benefits that the sponsored immigrant has received. If you do not reimburse the agency, the agency can obtain a court order for repayment.