Reestablish U.S Domicile When Filling Form I-864

U.S. citizens living abroad with a foreign family member must prove they already live in the U.S. to help them immigrate. They typically marry a foreign citizen spouse, and the U.S. citizen petitions the government for an immigrant visa (green card). The challenge lies in filing the Affidavit of Support.


They Need to Sponsor with Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Family-based green card applicants must prove they won’t become a “public charge” in the U.S., which can be removed by submitting an Affidavit of Support, a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. government, promising to repay the government if the immigrant needs future public benefits.


Domicile Requirement When Filling Form I-864

Form I-864 requires a sponsor to have a U.S. domicile, meaning their principal residence must be in the U.S. and they plan to maintain it for the foreseeable future. If this requirement is ignored, the sponsor may not qualify for an affidavit of support, preventing green card grants.


Steps to Reestablish U.S Domicile 

U.S. citizens domiciled abroad can submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to reestablish U.S. domicile. This requires proof of returning to the U.S. as a permanent home. Factors to show this include opening a bank account, transferring funds, investing in the U.S., accepting job offers, enrolling children in U.S. schools, applying for Social Security, voting in elections, signing leases, and establishing utility bills in the sponsor’s name. Multiple examples of intent to reestablish domicile are preferred.


Domicile for U.S Citizens Employed Abroad by U.S Organization

U.S. citizens living abroad may be considered U.S. domiciled if they work for the U.S. government, an American research institution, a U.S. firm or corporation involved in foreign trade and commerce, a public international organization, a religious denomination, or a religious denomination or missionary organization. Evidence of employment abroad can be submitted by submitting a letter from the employer indicating the dates of employment abroad and if applicable, employment will continue once relocated within the U.S.


Temporarily Abroad but Domiciled in the U.S

U.S. citizens who temporarily live abroad may not need to reestablish U.S. domicile if they can prove they maintained domicile in the U.S. while abroad. This is common among students, contract workers, and NGOs. To establish domicile, the sponsor must satisfy the consular officer that they left the U.S. for a limited period, intended to maintain a U.S. domicile at the time of departure, and can present evidence of continued ties to the U.S. Evidence should include voting records, IRIS transcripts, property ownership records, bank accounts, receipts, driver’s license renewal records, and travel records.


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