Many of you will have heard of the affidavit of support document which must accompany the vast majority of family-based green card petitions, and also some employment-based ones. 

The document, which must be submitted by the sponsoring relative/employer, testifies that in the event the immigrant requires public assistance, the sponsor will assume all costs associated with same. It is a legally binding document until the immigrant has accumulated 40 quarters of work, or becomes a U.S. citizen.
Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued new rules that make the sometimes difficult affidavit process easier to comply with. There are several ways in which the process has changed.
Following is most of the USCIS press release about the new rules. For more information, visit the agency’s Web site at
“The rule makes the affidavit of support process less burdensome for sponsors while continuing to ensure that each intending immigrant has a sponsor who has sufficient income and/or assets to support the immigrant(s). The affidavit of support also allows the sponsored intending immigrant to establish that he or she is not likely to become a public charge
(e.g., receive certain federal or state means-tested benefits).
"This final rule takes effect July 21, 2006. It will apply to any application for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status that is decided on or after July 21, 2006, even if the case was filed before July 21, 2006.  
"Highlights from the final rule -- reduces required initialdocumentation. Each sponsor is now required to submit as initial evidence only his or her single most recent tax return rather than tax returns from the three most recent federal tax returns, pay stub(s) covering the most recent six months, and an employer letter. 
"Introduces new EZ Affidavit of Support (Form I-864EZ). The EZ affidavit of support is a short form affidavit of support to be used by certain petitioning sponsors who rely only upon their own employment to meet the affidavit of support requirements.
Establishes new Intending Immigrant’s I-864 Exemption (Form I-864W). This new form is specifically designed to standardize and make more efficient the process certain immigrants must follow to establish that they are not required to have an affidavit of support filed on their behalf. 
"Eliminates the affidavit of support requirement in certain cases/ For example, sponsored immigrants who have, or can be credited with, 40 quarters of covered employment; and adopted children who will qualify for citizenship immediately upon entry under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.  
"Allows two joint sponsors per family unit intending to immigrate based upon the same petition. If two joint sponsors are used, each joint sponsor is responsible only for the intending immigrant(s) listed on that joint sponsor’s Form I-864, affidavit of support.
"Reduces the amount of assets that certain sponsors must show in order to cover any shortfall in their household income. Sponsors of immediate relative spouses and children of U.S. citizens - amount of required assets is reduced from five times to three times the difference between the governing poverty guideline and actual household income.”