On April 10, 2020, USCIS published a proposed change to forms I-864, I-864A and I-864EZ, the Affidavit of Support forms required for virtually all immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent family members to be approved for permanent residency. The public is able to comment until 11:59 p.m. on May 11, 2020.
The proposed changes will likely result in decreased immediate family immigration. Apart from the damage this will cause the divided families of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, it will also harm Maine, which needs continued immigration due to our aging population, low birthrates, and shrinking workforce. Two-thirds of Maine’s immigrants arrive through immediate family immigration. Reduced immigration by relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent resident harms Maine’s communities and the economy.
The proposed changes would require any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who petitioned for their immediate family member, or any person serving as a joint sponsor, to provide their detailed bank account information on the Affidavit of Support forms. This would include their bank’s routing number, account number, and names of any other joint owners on the account. This change is an enormous invasion of privacy and raises concerns of increased potential exposure to identity theft. U.S. citizens and permanent residents should not have to trade off the privacy of their bank account details for unification with their loved ones.
USCIS is also proposing that the forms, which since 1997 have been signed under pains and penalties of perjury, be signed before a notary public, adding additional burden to sponsors and joint sponsors, particularly if they live in rural areas with no nearby notary. The forms have long required that income be verified by attaching tax transcripts obtained from the IRS, making this proposed change unnecessary.
Both of the proposed changes exceed Congress’s mandate when it created the Affidavit of Support requirement.
MeBIC submitted a comment strongly opposing the changes.