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Affidavit of Support- A Complete Guide On Form I-864 and Student Visa

Affidavit of Support- A Complete Guide On Form I-864 and Student Visa

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Read the blog to know what is the affidavit of support for students going to study abroad. Get the comprehensive know-how of Form I-864 and the student visa.

GyanDhan
Gurbani Kaur Suri
Updated on:  17 Feb 2024  | Reviewed By: 
Aman 
| 15.1K | 8  min read

Affidavit in layperson’s terms is the written promise where a person assures the authorities of certain commitments. Affidavit of support helps student visa applicants ensure the visa or the consulate officials about the availability of funds for studying and living expenses. Since the cost of living is pretty high, and when compared with India’s cost of living, the differences are considerable. The need to have financial capability is very important, and the US immigration authorities are very particular about it. Students going to the US are primarily dependent on their parents, and thus the need to have the financial capability to pay for the expenses becomes paramount. 


Latest Update: The US Department of State has stated that the fee for US student visas will be increased to $185 from $160, effective May 30, 2023.

 

There are several routes to substantiate the ability to pay for the expenses as most of the banks try to incorporate the cost of living into their loans. Banks tend to include the living expenses, but there is a certain cap too. We will discuss all the aspects of the Affidavit of Support and the need to substantiate the financial capability of the student visa applicant.
 

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The Role of Sponsor in the Affidavit of Support

Since the students going for higher studies are yet to enter the earning phase of their lives, they don’t have the means to pay for their tuition fees or take care of their living expenses. But every year, thousands of students go to the US for higher studies, so how exactly does this whole process work? To better understand all this, the first thing to understand is the concept of a sponsor. The parents, relatives or any family member that is supporting a student’s education financially, the person is called the Sponsor of the student applying for the visa. 

 

So, when a student applies for a study visa, they have to submit an affidavit of support to satisfy the visa or consulate authorities that they have a sponsor backing the financial needs for continuing education and the cost of living at the time of stay during the studies. The affidavit of support is submitted by a form given by the institution that is in a prescribed format. It can also be sent on a letterhead provided by the institution. For substantiating the relationship between a sponsor and the student, there must be some proof. For instance, if parents are the sponsors, then the birth certificate can be used as proof. In the case of a relative, some other documents might substantiate the relationship between the sponsor and the student. For a wife-husband relationship, a marriage certificate will act as proof. 

 

The sponsor has to be someone who is closely related to the student applying for the visa. While nominating a sponsor, one has to bear in mind that they shouldn’t be the family members, or in other words, only one person can be the sponsor, not the whole family. However, in some cases, the students are given the exemption when both the parents are earning, and their combined income is used as proof, but it should be limited only to parents. Even brothers and sisters can’t be coupled with their parents. In many countries, the sponsorship is exclusive to the nearest family members, and even uncles and aunts aren’t allowed. So it’s better to read the details beforehand and confirm them with the visa or consulate authorities. 

 

For finalizing the sponsorship, once the relationship is established, then the name of the sponsor has to be put as a sponsorship. Sponsors have to be financially capable to take the responsibility of financing the education of the student visa applicant. The financial norms are pretty stringent in most of the countries and, in particular, the US. The cost of living varies a lot depending on the state where the university is located. Every government puts forward certain financial requirements that a student must fulfill, and the sponsor must be in a position to finance the cost of education and living. The sponsors have to explicitly prove their capability to meet the financial requirement through the sponsor’s bank statement or the Income Tax return of previous years. This helps students in establishing their financial capacity to study in the US

 

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F1 Visa or the Student Visa and Affidavit of Support 

The US Dept of State issues F1 visas to students for studying in the US. The US government allows students from India and other countries to come on F1 visas and pursue bachelor, master’s, doctorate, high school, or vocational courses at universities or institutes recognized in the US. F1 visa applicants have to substantiate certain facts before coming to the US for higher studies. 

 

Apart from the financial requirement, the students have to prove to the US embassy or consulate officials that they don’t have any criminal conviction in the native country. They have a genuine interest in the course they intend to pursue at a University in the US. They intend to leave America right after the completion of the course. Every aspect is important, and a student must prepare themselves for questions related to this prior to their visa interview. 

 

An affidavit of support is a must for Indian students if they are applying for the F1 or the Student visa. The affidavit of support certifies the student’s capability to fund their education and living expenses in the US. The need to substantiate the financial requirement also comes into play at the issuance of the I-20. I-20 is issued by a university that has been certified by the US government for admitting international students. I-20 substantiates that the student has been admitted to a program and has shown the financial capacity to pursue the course and fund the living expenses at the time of the study.

 

At the time of applying for the F1 or the student visa, students must be fully aware of all the information that they have furnished. The information must be true to the best of their knowledge, as the visa officials will ask questions based on the content of the affidavit of support submitted by the students. The questions are largely focused on their means and capability to finance their education. If a student has a sponsor living in the US, they have to fill the form I-134 stating their intent to become the sponsor for a student.

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The Stage where Affidavit of Support is Needed

Once the application begins, the affidavit of support comes into play somewhere in between, and students need to prepare all the documents beforehand. First, the university carefully considers the application and then communicates the intent to accept the student for a particular course. Once a student gets a preliminary acceptance from the university recognized by the US government, students will have to take the offer. 


Once the offer is accepted, students will have to contact the International Programs Officer. The International Programs Officer is an official of the university who assists students in moving ahead with the visa application. The officer helps students in submitting the affidavit of support to the university. After submission of the affidavit of support to the university, it takes some time to process the documents. After processing documents, if the university is satisfied with the contents of the affidavit of support, they issue the I-20 form, which acts as a confirmation of admission at the university. 

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Minimum Fund Requirement For Student Visa

The fund requirement for the US student visa is pretty stringent, and the authorities don’t actually give much relaxation on this aspect. However, there is a noteworthy aspect that there is no fixed minimum fund requirement. The fund requirement for the approval of the student visa is mentioned in the I-20, and students must ensure that they have the capability to afford more than the amount mentioned in the I-20. Another clarification is that there is no fixed amount when we say “more than the amount mentioned in the I-20”. It means 1.5 times to 2 times the amount mentioned in the I-20 must be with the students. 

 

However, there are certain cases wherein the students are allowed to have the same amount as mentioned in the I-20. For deserving students who are from humble backgrounds and don’t have the means to have funds more than the one mentioned in the   I-20, the authorities do give some relaxation, but it will never be allowed to have less amount than what is mentioned in the I-20. A student must keep the required balance in their bank accounts two months post-issuance of the student visa.

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Financial documents required for substantiating the ability to pay

Students have to take care of a ton of documentation for proving the financial capability to study in the US and take care of the living expenses while staying in the US. In a series of documents like Academic records, transcripts, SOP, LOR, passports, etc., the students are supposed to show the following documents for substantiating the financial capability:

  • list items Bank Statement(usually for the last one year)
  • list items ITR Statement(preferably for the last one year)
  • list items Loan Sanction Documents
  • list items Salary documents of the sponsors
  • list items I-20 
  • list items Scholarship documents (if applicable)

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Affidavit of Support and Scholarships

Since the affidavit of support is premised on the concept of assessing a student’s ability to fund the studies in the US. However, many times students get 100%  US scholarships. In these cases, too, universities might ask the students to submit an affidavit of support. By submitting the affidavit of support, the universities don’t intend to take fees from students who received 100% scholarship. But in some instances where students get a partial scholarship, say 75%, then the students have to submit the affidavit of support compulsorily. This helps the university ascertain that the student can pay the difference between the scholarship amount and the tuition fee.

 

Students are advised to start the process of collecting the documents right after getting the preliminary acceptance from the university. Any delay or discrepancy can have severe consequences on the studies as the process requires thorough verification from the authorities. So, it’s better to complete the loan process as soon as possible to complete it at the earliest. 

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