June 8, 2009: I-864 Affidavit of Support and Domicile Issues

I-864 Affidavit of Support and Domicile Issue

I am the step-father of a 23 year old U.S. citizen who is still studying in Kuwait. She has lived all her life in Kuwait. My wife and I (the natural mother of the U.S. citizen) have met the immigration visa officer in the US embassy in Kuwait to check our documents (DS230) and the officer said that the petitioner is not domiciled in the United States and that the applicant must have a US citizen sponsor. How can you help us to do that?

Generally, a United States citizen petitioner such as your step-daughter will be required to provide an Affidavit of Support (I-864) with the necessary supporting financial documents for you to submit with your immigrant visa application. One requirement, as the officer at the U.S. embassy explained to you, is that the sponsor must prove that s/he is domiciled in the United States. Immigration law defines “domicile” as “the place where a sponsor has his or her principal residence, as defined in § 101(a)(33) of the Act, with the intention to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future.” It does not appear that your U.S. citizen step-daughter will meet any of the employment-related criteria for establishing domicile under the immigration law.

Her best (and possibly only) option may be to prove to the consular officer adjudicating the immigrant visa application that she has the imminent intent to establish a domicile in the United States on or before the date the you and your wife are admitted to the United States. It is important to note that a United States citizen or permanent resident joint sponsor may be used to satisfy the income requirements, but the use of a joint sponsor does not eliminate the requirement that the petitioner execute an Affidavit of Support. This means that the petitioner must still prove that s/he meets the domicile requirement. t may be wise for you and/or your step-daughter to contact a United States immigration attorney with experience in Affidavit of Support issues.

As it appears you are well aware, an immigrant visa case that is approvable based on family relationship may still be denied if the petitioner cannot meet the affidavit of support requirements.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys