Establishing Domicile in the USA:

How to establish domicile in the USA: We have had consultations with families residing in Canada, where one spouse or partner is a U.S. citizen, who is interested in moving to the U.S. and sponsoring their family for residency. In these cases, establishing a domicile is a key requirement.

When dealing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), understanding the concepts of “domicile” and “household” is important, as they have distinct legal meanings and implications for various immigration processes. Here’s a detailed explanation of each term:

Domicile refers to the place where a person has their permanent home and to which they intend to return whenever they are absent. It is not just a physical residence but also encompasses the intention to remain or return. Domicile is the location where a sponsor maintains their primary residence with the intention of continuing to do so for the foreseeable future.

  1. Permanent Home: Domicile is considered your fixed, permanent, and principal home. It is the place where you live and intend to stay indefinitely.
  2. Intent: Establishing a domicile involves both physical presence in a location and the intention to make that place your home permanently.
  3. Legal Implications: For immigration purposes, domicile is important for certain petitions, such as the I-864, Affidavit of Support, where the petitioner must demonstrate that they are domiciled in the United States.

Establishing Domicile:

  • Residence: Living in the U.S. on a long-term basis.
  • Intent: Actions like obtaining a U.S. driver’s license, registering to vote, buying property, paying U.S. taxes, and employment in the U.S. can help establish domicile.

Household: Refers to a group of people, often family members, who live together in the same dwelling. It includes everyone who shares the same principal residence and may contribute to the common living expenses.

  1. Physical Presence: A household is defined by people physically living together.
  2. Financial Ties: Household members often share financial responsibilities and contribute to the household’s expenses.
  3. USCIS Forms and Processes: The concept of household is relevant in various immigration applications and forms, such as the I-864, where household size affects the income requirements.

Household Size:

  • For immigration purposes, the household size includes:
    • The sponsor (petitioner).
    • The sponsor’s spouse.
    • Any dependent children or other dependents listed on the sponsor’s most recent federal tax return.
    • The intending immigrant.
    • Any other relatives or dependents living in the same household.


It is critical for petitions like the I-864, where the sponsor must prove they are domiciled in the U.S. Proof required is evidence of physical presence and intent to reside in the U.S. indefinitely.


This is important for determining the household size and income requirements for the I-864 and other forms. For household purposes Include all people living in the same residence who contribute to or are dependent on the household income.

Examples in USCIS Context:

  1. Affidavit of Support (I-864):
    • Domicile: The sponsor must show they are domiciled in the U.S. to be eligible to submit an affidavit of support.
    • Household Size: The income requirement is based on the household size, which includes the sponsor, their dependents, and the intending immigrant.
  2. Family-Based Petitions:
    • Domicile: Petitioners must often prove domicile in the U.S. to sponsor a relative for a green card.
    • Household Composition: Determines the minimum income threshold the sponsor must meet to support the immigrant.

Establishing and Proving Domicile for USCIS

To establish and prove domicile in the U.S. for USCIS purposes, you can provide evidence such as:

  • Lease or Mortgage Documents: Showing a long-term residence in the U.S.
  • Employment Records: Indicating stable employment in the U.S.
  • Tax Returns: Filed with the IRS, demonstrating financial ties to the U.S.
  • Voter Registration: Indicating participation in the U.S. electoral process.
  • Utility Bills: In the sponsor’s name, showing regular payments for services in the U.S.

Household Size Calculation for USCIS:

When calculating household size for USCIS purposes:

  1. Start with the Sponsor: The primary petitioner.
  2. Add Dependents: Include the sponsor’s spouse, children, and any other dependents listed on tax returns.
  3. Include the Intending Immigrant: The person being sponsored.
  4. Additional Members: Any other relatives or dependents living with the sponsor who rely on their income.

Here are some examples of what constitutes a household for income purposes:

  1. Single Adult: An individual living alone.
  2. Married Couple: A husband and wife living together.
  3. Family with Children: A married couple with their dependent children.
  4. Extended Family: A family that includes grandparents, parents, and children all living together and sharing expenses.
  5. Single Parent: A single parent living with their dependent children.
  6. Roommates: Unrelated individuals who live together and share household expenses.
  7. Guardian and Dependent: A legal guardian living with their dependent.

Each of these examples illustrates different household compositions that may be considered when determining income requirements for USCIS purposes.

Understanding these distinctions and how they apply to various immigration processes is crucial for anyone involved in or assisting with U.S. immigration matters.

Contact us to speak with our experienced USA Vancouver Immigration lawyer in Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

YA Law Corporation

504-938 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1N9
Tel: 604.620.9598 | Fax: 604.620.9597