What Is an Affidavit and How Do I Use One?

Sometime during the process of applying for your green card you may find yourself in need of some kind of proof in the form of an affidavit. While the name may be unfamiliar and appear to be complicated, affidavits are surprisingly simple.

The word “affidavit” is derived from modified Latin from Medieval Europe and simply means that the particular document has been signed under oath. That is the general purpose and action of the document. By signing the document under oath it is assumed that the statement is true. What should stop people from lying in these documents is the fact that if it is found out that the statement is untrue the signer will be put on trial for perjury (lying to a court) so it is a bad idea to lie with an affidavit.

Affidavits are an easy and convenient way to prove the truth of your statements.

The affidavit document includes the signature of the “affiant” or the person signing the document; the various statements that the affiant is claiming to be true; a statement that says that all of the above is correct and true and if it isn’t the affiant will be punished somehow; a certification that the oath was made on a particular date; and the signatures of both the affiant and the witness. The witness happens to be the most important part of this document and is generally a notary public. Notary publics are the officials necessary to oversee the affidavit signing. You can find notary publics just about anywhere, most often in post offices.

Affidavits are useful for when you need to prove a particular event even though there might not be any official documentation that proves it. A classic example of a situation where an affidavit is necessary: Say you need a birth certificate, but the region from where you’re from doesn’t distribute birth certificates. However, at the time of your birth your grandmother and a midwife were both present and witnessed your birth. If you have an affidavit signed by your grandmother and the midwife it effectively takes the place of a birth certificate in the court’s eyes.

This is only one example of how to use an affidavit, but there are many other ways that they can be used. Get creative!