Comment Guidance: DHS Proposing to Tighten Requirements on Sponsors
The Department of Homeland Security published proposed changes to the affidavit of support regulations on Oct. 2, 2020, that would adversely affect many of your clients and make it harder for them to immigrate close family members. These changes are separate from the public charge rules that went into effect on Feb. 24. Comments are due by Nov. 2.
The changes would increase the evidentiary requirements of sponsors and household members by requiring them “to provide Federal income tax returns for the 3 most recent tax years, instead of 1 tax return for the most recent tax year, as well as recent credit reports and credit scores, and bank account information.” The proposed changes to the Form I-864 would incorporate this new requirement and include questions regarding the sponsor’s bank account, including the account holder’s name, names of all joint account holders, institution name, account number, and routing number.
The proposed regulatory changes would also require applicants to obtain a joint sponsor if the petitioning sponsor had received a federal or state means-tested public benefit within three years of filing an affidavit of support. It would preclude the sponsor from counting the income of certain household members residing with the sponsor. The sponsor’s adult or married children, parents or siblings would no longer be able to include their income.
CLINIC will be submitting detailed comments opposing the proposed changes. CLINIC opposes these changes because they: (a) are arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the statute; (b) are not rationally connected to determining the ability of the sponsor to support the applicant; (c) will unnecessarily require more applicants to obtain a joint sponsor; and (d) will make it significantly more burdensome, costly and restrictive for low and moderate income households to immigrate close family members. We encourage your agency to submit comments describing how these changes would make it more difficult for your clients to immigrate without improving affidavit of support policies. We suggest that your agency comment and provide information on the following:
- Credit history and credit scores are unnecessary to show the sponsor’s ability to satisfy the statutory financial requirements;
- Requiring specific bank account information is unjustified and will cause many potential joint sponsors to refuse to participate;
- Requiring submission of three years of tax returns instead of just one would be overly burdensome.
- There is no statutory basis for excluding the income of sponsors’ household members, and doing so would require them to find joint sponsors and make immigration more difficult; and
- A sponsor’s receipt of a public benefit up to three years ago is not reflective of their ability to satisfy the statutory financial requirements and should not disqualify them from being a sponsor.