What is “domicile” and how to prove domicile in the US?

The following are important information about what “domicile within the United States” means.

To qualify as a sponsor for affidavit of support, the sponsor must be domiciled within the United States. INA 213(A)(f)(1)(A)-(D)
The sponsor must be domiciled in “any of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States. This requirement prevents some US citizen or permanent residents outside the United States from filing an affidavit of support on behalf of another family member. To overcome this hurdle, it is important to read closely the definition of “domicile” and “residence,” as well as the exceptions set forth in the regulations.

A domicile is defined as “the place where a sponsor has his or her principal residence, as defined in section 101(a)(33) of the Immigration & Nationality Act, with the intention to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future. Residence, in turn, is defined as the person’s “place of general abode,” or the “principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent.” Taken together, this means sponsors residing temporarily outside the United States still can qualify to submit Form I-864, provided they have a residence in the United STates that they use as their “principal, actual dwelling place.”

A sponsor who resides abroad temporarily bears the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she remains domicile in the United States. Such evidence could include proof of the following in the United States:

1. Ownership or rental of a residence

2. Close family members

3. Employment

4. Other business ties, such as owning a business or investments.

5. Enrollment in school

The following evidence will also be helpful to establish that the travel or living abroad is temporary and that domicile has been maintained in the United States: (not an exhaustive list)

1. Voting record in the United States.

2. Payment of federal, state or local taxes

3. Ownership of real estate in the United States

4. Maintaining bank or investment accounts in the United States.

5. Maintaining a permanent mailing address in the United States.

If the US citizen or LPR is not considered domiciled in the United States, he or she may have to return to the United States and establish or re-establish domicile before being able to qualify as a sponsor. Sponsors who are domiciled abroad, however, may submit an affidavit of support if they convince USICS or the consular official by a preponderance of the evidence that they will re-establish domicile in the United States on or before the date that the intending immigrant obtains LPR status.

8 CFR 213.2(c)(1)(ii)(B). Evidence of concrete steps taken to establish domicile in the United States may include the following: (not an exhaustive list)

1. Accepting a job in the United States

2. Opening a bank account

3. Transferring funds to the United States

4. Making investments in the United State

5. Signing a lease or purchasing a residence in the United States.

6. Applying for a social security number

7. Voting in a local, state, or federal election, or

8. Registering children in US schools.

Sponsors who are US citizens and who accompany the intending immigrant to the port-of-entry are deemed to have established domiciled in the United States. Sponsors who are permanent residents also are deemed to have established domicile unless the LPR is denied admission to the country. 8 CFR 213a.2(c)(i)(ii)(B).

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