Affidavit of Support for Client with Privacy Concerns
- Applicant: Ms. Diem
- Nationality: Vietnamese
- Applying For: I-485 Adjustment of Status, I-864 Affidavit of Support
- Time: 1 Month
- Familial and cultural privacy issues around money
- Highly sensitive about releasing any financial information
- Unwilling to release any traditional methods of financial wealth proof
- Working with CPAs instead of the client
Getting a green card can seem like a difficult process to many of our clients. In reality, the guidelines and qualifications for doing so are easily understood and laid out, and we help many clients each year achieve their dreams of becoming a United States citizen. In many cases, not knowing the law can make a case daunting for our clients. Other cases, however, like Ms. Diem’s case, are more complicated by our client’s inability to come forward with all the proper details needed to quickly and easily settle a case. Ms. Diem was attempting to provide a member of her family with an I-864 Affidavit of Support in that family member’s quest to become a U.S. citizen.
The Affidavit of Support is used to show that when the person who is trying to become a U.S. Citizen doesn’t have the requisite level of salary to do so, they instead have someone willing and able to support them financially. When submitting an Affidavit of Support, the supporter must show that they have at least five times the difference between the level of income that the supportee has and 125% of the federal poverty line. In this case, the person trying to secure the adjustment of status missed the federal poverty line by around 3,000 dollars, making the total that Ms. Diem needed to prove possession of less than $16,000. This seemed like a relatively simple problem, but we ran into complications. Ms. Diem and her family are extremely wealthy people, so much so that they work very hard to keep their finances private. They did not want to expose themselves to unforeseen repercussions by disclosing money or assets in this case, as that disclosure might be used against them in tax cases in the U.S. or around the world. They were incredibly sensitive to releasing even the most basic financial information.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
“To them, it is an insult to insinuate that they might not be able to support each other. But how would the case officer working their case know that? Part of what we do is counsel our clients on how to best move forward, counsel them past their fears and their worries and find them a path to success. For this, it was finding what they could be most comfortable providing as proof of their wealth without hurting themselves in other or future litigation.” – Joseph Tsang, Attorney
Ms. Diem and her family knew about what would be required of them from the get-to. However, for them, the struggle was more about privacy issues. They were taken aback that someone would dare to question whether or not they could support themselves. We had to explain that the U.S. government wasn’t attacking them personally, and that this was simply the standard requirement for all those wanting to adjust their status. We developed a strategy around the idea of finding out what they were initially comfortable disclosing. Once we had that, we would then be able to determine how much more exactly that they would have to disclose to guarantee that their case was approved. Yes, the minimum was clearly presented to them, but oftentimes we advise clients to provide as much proof as possible that they exceed the minimum guidelines in these cases. It helps case officers make more informed decisions and helps them make decisions faster as well. However, initially they were only willing to release partial tax returns from 2017 that showed very little income, not enough to make Ms. Diem qualified to support her family members.
Ms. Diem and her family did not want to include any real estate assets, they didn’t want to show any stock portfolios, any retirement accounts, and they definitely did not want to show their bank accounts. Pretty much any one of these things that the Diem family had would have been enough proof, but these are all things that the Diem family had worked hard to keep private. So private, in fact, that we would regularly have to have conversations with international CPAs that worked with the family instead of the family themselves, because the CPAs had devised so much of the protection of the family’s wealth.
Eventually, we, the family, and the CPAs all managed to settle on a strategy. Ms. Diem would open a new bank account, one that they would be willing to disclose to the case officer and the U.S. government. We counseled Ms. Diem and her family that while the minimum would be fine, it might cause the case to be drawn out longer. A much larger amount would provide all the evidence the case officer would need to adjust her family member’s status.
Ms. Diem and her family provided us with the proof of a bank account worth several hundred thousand dollars, in excess of ten times the amount needed to make her an acceptable person to provide her family member with an Affidavit of Support. Her family member was able to obtain a green card within a month of Ms. Diem contacting our office. Money is a critical issue to many families, even wealthy ones, around the world, but obtaining a U.S. green card is a life-long goal of many, and Ms. Diem and her family did not let their wish for privacy long impede their process to joining the U.S.
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