Does Unemployment Affect Adjustment Of Status And The Affidavit Of Support I-864?

With the U.S. economy still not fully recovered, it is no surprise then that many people will be unemployed at some point in their immigration process. If you are in this situation, don’t fear, you can still get approved for adjustment of status.

The reason that the USCIS needs the sponsor to submit the I-864 affidavit of support form is to protect the U.S. government from social benefit claims from new immigrants. The government wants you to prove that you can financially provide for your spouse before they can become a permanent resident.

This makes sense right? No one should be coming to a new country and immediately applying for welfare programs. So it is up to you and your spouse to gather as much information about your financial health as possible.


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Unemployment and the Affidavit of Support Form

You can use assets instead of cash
You can use assets instead of cash

The affidavit of support form requires that you provide details about your employment, income, and assets. This document is very important and without it, your adjustment of status will be denied.

  • Employment: list the name of your employer or company if you are self employed.
  • Income: list your current annual income (salary or calculate the yearly hourly pay)
  • Assets: list value of all your liquid assets (excluding your home and IRA, 401K)
    • rental income
    • dividend income
    • savings account balance
    • stocks, bonds, CODs
    • immigrants savings, assets

If you have enough assets to equal 5 times the minimum poverty guidelines for your household, you do not need to prove income. You will still need to provide documentation for all your assets and their current values.

You may use the savings and assets of the beneficiary as long as they can provide documentation for the total value.

Non liquid assets such as a home, car or retirement savings cannot be calculated into the asset value unless t hey are sold and converted to cash.

If you are currently unemployed but have significant assets, you may use assets instead of income. However, if unemployment is temporary and you are receiving unemployment benefits, you can include these benefits when calculating your total income.

No Tax Returns For The Previous 2 Years

You are required to submit tax transcripts.
You are required to submit tax transcripts.

Filing your taxes with the IRS is very important during the immigration process. Although it is not required by the USCIS at the adjustment of status stage, it is still a good idea to file your taxes every year.

You will be asked if you have ever NOT filed taxes in any given year since you became a permanent resident on the naturalization forms.

If you have a good reason for not filing your tax return, include a letter with the I-864 explaining your situation. Some examples of valid reason for not filing your tax return:

  • Unemployed (no income)
  • Minimum income (less than $9,500 a year)
  • Student living off of student loans
  • Living abroad without working (may get you in trouble with residency)

If you have not filed your tax returns for last year (2014), then you can file it now to catch up. You probably will be okay as long as you do not owe any taxes.

Are You Required To File Your Taxes?

  • Single: $10,150 ($11,700 if you’re 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2015)
  • Married filing jointly: $20,300 ($21,500 if you or your spouse is 65 or older; or $22,700 if you’re both over 65)
  • Married filing separately: $3,950 at any age
  • Head of household: $13,050 ($14,600 if age 65 or older)
  • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child: $16,350 ($17,550 if age 65 or older)

How To Prove Your Income While Being Self-Employed

Self-employment can be tricky when it comes to proving your income. Many entrepreneurs that start working for themselves try their best to minimize income as much as possible by taking advantage of legitimate business expenses.

This is great for your business but not so good for proving sufficient income for the I-864 affidavit of support. So what can you do?

There are a few options depending on your circumstances:

  • Get a co-sponsor (with provable income for their household and yours)
  • Forgo some business deductions (I know this sounds crazy)
  • Use your personal assets instead of income (can’t use business assets)

Seems like they are not great options but the easiest way is to get a co-sponsor. If you know someone who works a 9-5 job and receives a W2 from their employer, ask them if they are willing to help you out.

Of course, it’s best to ask close friends and family that you are comfortable with. They will need to provide some very sensitive personal and financial details about their life.

Getting Paid Cash For Freelance Work While Claiming No Income

We all hate paying taxes but it is required in this country. As much as we don’t want to believe that there are a lot of people who get paid in cash but do not claim it as income; it happens!

There is a huge underground economy in the U.S. where people trade their skills for money without the interference of the government. This is illegal and no one should risk getting caught, especially those applying for immigration benefits.

Child care business
Child care business

What types of self employed activities can get by on cash?

  • Lawn care
  • Childcare
  • Freelancers
  • Contractors
  • Delivery drivers
  • Musicians
  • Artists

Many of these types of activities can get paid in cash without a paper trail. All business are required to provide a 1099 form to anyone that they have paid $600 or more during the year. Even if you do not receive the 1099, you will need to calculate your income when filing your tax returns.

Online income does not exclude you from filing your taxes either. If you are not paid directly in cash, there will be information passed along to the IRS about how much you have been paid online (through merchant accounts or PayPal).

If you continue to claim to have no income but are able to pay your bills, you will have the IRS come knocking on your door.

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