How To Withdraw I-864 Affidavit Of Support
One reason that USCIS requires form I-864 for all green card applications is to reduce their risk. The risk I’m talking about is the new immigrant getting public assistance. Most green card holders have to wait 5 years before they are eligible to apply for cash assistance which is why the U.S. sponsor must fill out form I-864 affidavit of support form.
So, what if your marriage to your foreign spouse ends? Should you withdraw I-864 affidavit of support?
There are many reasons someone would want to withdraw the I-864, one of them being to protect your financial assets. The U.S. government can legally come after you if your foreign spouse received means-tested benefits. This can mean a long and painful lawsuit where you can lose everything you have.
But, you can’t just withdraw the I-864 anytime you want. There are only specific times during the processing of the green card application that you’ll be allowed to revoke your support.
When do the financial obligations end for I-864?
- beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen;
- beneficiary spouse has worked 40-quarters (10 years);
- beneficary spouse leaves the U.S. and abandons residency;
- beneficiary spouse is deported and gets new sponsor; or
- beneficiary spouse dies.
When Can You Withdraw I-864 Affidavit Of Support?
You can withdraw I-864 affidavit of support as long as a final decision hasn’t been made on your case. This means that the I-485 petition must still be in pending status when you submit your withdrawal request.
Withdrawing the affidavit of support form is really serious. It will automatically cause the petition to be canceled because without it, the beneficiary is at risk of becoming a public charge.
What the Department of State CFR manual says about I-864 withdrawal:
“…the sponsor may disavow his or her agreement to act as sponsor if he or she does so in writing and submits the document to the Department of State officer before the actual issuance of an immigrant visa to the intending immigrant. Once the intending immigrant has obtained an immigrant visa, a sponsor cannot disavow his or her agreement to act as a sponsor unless the person or entity who filed the visa petition withdraws the visa petition in writing…”
So based on the language used by DOS, you can withdraw the I-864 as long as you do so in writing and before the visa or green card is approved.
To find out the current status of the case, go to https://usics.gov and enter the receipt number for your application. This website will show you exactly what stage your case is in and whether it’s been approved or not.
How To Withdraw I-864 Affidavit of Support
If you’ve made up your mind about withdrawing the signed I-864, the next step is to put the request in writing and then mail it to USCIS or the consulate abroad depending on who has your case. Once you send the request, you can’t take it back. USCIS or DOS will reject the application after the affidavit of support is withdrawn so think twice about the consequences.
I’ve seen couples get into fights and the petitioner sends this letter requesting to withdraw the I-864, then realize they’ve made a big mistake the next morning only to find out what’s been done can’t be undone.
Depending on whether you have filed I-485 adjustment of status or a visa application, you’ll likely need to send the letter to USCIS or Department of States. Remember to keep a copy for your own records.
You should receive a letter or email confirming that the I-864 has been withdrawn. If not, contact USCIS or the consulate to confirm your request has been completed.
Paula is a U.S. citizen that filed form I-864 for a man she married after a 6 week romance in the U.S. After their marriage, she realized that they weren’t compatible and they may have rushed their relationship. Since her husband’s green card application (I-485) was still pending, she decided to withdraw the I-864 affidavit of support so she would not be financially responsible for him after their divorce.
Paula submitted the request to withdraw letter to USCIS filing center that she initially sent the I-485 to. Within 2 weeks she received a letter stating that the I-864 was successfully withdrawn and the petition canceled.
In the case above, Paula was able to withdraw the I-864 because the green card application was still pending. If, however, her husband’s green card was approved she would not be able to withdraw her support.
Withdrawing I-864 As A Joint Sponsor
If you’ve submitted form I-864 as a joint sponsor and have changed your mind about it, you can request to withdraw it. The affidavit only goes into affect when the visa or green card is approved.
I’ve seen cases where the joint sponsor was pressured into filling it out and signing it to help a family member out. This is never a good idea because of the consequences you could face if the beneficiary receives state or federal means-tested benefits.
Julio filed form I-485 for his new wife Liz but he didn’t make enough money. He asked his mother Maria to be a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement. His mother was hesitant because she believed Liz was using her son for a green card. Maria decided to sign the form to make her son happy but when she heard rumors that Liz was seeing another man, she reported it to USCIS and requested to withdraw the I-864 joint affidavit of support.
When a joint sponsor withdraws the I-864 and the sponsor doesn’t meet the income requirement, the petition will likely be canceled. Why? Because if the sponsor can’t meet the income requirement alone, then the beneficiary is at risk of becoming a public charge.
Ultimately, this will make the beneficiary inadmissible.
What To Do When It’s Too Late To Withdraw I-864
In some cases, by the time you realize you want to withdraw the I-864, it’s too late. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to be really careful what you do next.
I’ve seen cases where the beneficiary took the sponsor to court to force them to pay a monthly alimony even if they weren’t married that long. This is because the I-864 requires that the petitioner financially support the beneficiary at 125% of the poverty guidelines.
Trust me, if your divorce is ugly, you should expect your ex-spouse to use this affidavit of support against you.
Signing the I-864 comes with some pretty big responsibilities such as:
- Maintaining the beneficiary’s living standards at 125% of the poverty guidelines.
- Possibly being sued by the U.S. government if the beneficiary receives means-tested benefits.
- Beneficiary can use the I-864 in divorce court for alimony based on the I-864.
- You may be limited when sponsoring future immigrants.
Luis and Gina married in El Salvador and he filed the I-130 petition for her. After waiting 11 months, the CR1 visa was approved and mailed to Gina. A few days later, Luis finds out that Gina has been cheating on him with another man. Luis felt betrayed and decided to send a letter to the U.S. consulate to withdraw the I-864 and cancel the CR1 visa. After 3 weeks, Department of State notifies Luis that the I-864 cannot be withdrawn as the visa has now been issued.
Some of you reading this may be shocked how they can just allow the beneficiary to keep the CR1 visa in this case. Well, once the visa has been issued, it’s up to CBP to deny entry at the border or airport.
Sounds wacky, I know.
I’ve heard of stories where the beneficiary is given the visa but when the relationship ends, they still use the visa to enter the U.S. Yes, this does actually happen. This is why it’s so important to really know who you are marrying or about to marry before submitting the I-864.
Final Thoughts On Withdrawing Form I-864
So, now that you know how to withdraw the I-864, the question is do you really want to? This is a serious decision that shouldn’t be take lightly. The I-864 is a legally binding contract with the U.S. government that can be used against you in court.
If you believe that your relationship is ending, it’s a good idea to cancel the entire application instead of just the affidavit of support. You may be surprised to know that even if you submit the request, they may still approve the visa or green card. It all depends on whether your request gets to the right person before the case is completed.
After the I-864 is withdrawn, you’ll be notified by mail or email confirming that it’s been done. Then you can move on with your life and be glad that you found out it wouldn’t work out before the I-864 went into affect.