When sponsoring a family member or spouse for a US green card, the petitioner has to meet certain income requirements in order for the US government to be sure that the beneficiary of the petition will not need public assistance once they immigrate to the United States, and if so, that the sponsor will be able to repay the US government for any income-based assistance, such as cash welfare, that is given to the beneficiary.
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support(also referred to as an Affidavit of Financial Support, or an Affidavit of Support Letter for Immigration), is a document that is legally required to be prepared, signed, and submitted by an individual (the sponsor) when petitioning for a spouse or family member (the beneficiary) to receive a US green card. By signing an Affidavit of Support, the sponsor enters into an agreement with the United States government to be financially responsible for the beneficiary once they immigrate to the United States.
In order to become a sponsor a person must meet the following criteria:
An Affidavit of Support requires the sponsor to show that their annual income is at least 125% of that which is needed to support themselves, the beneficiary, and the rest of their household, as established by the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This requirement can be met by providing, for example, proof of:
The Federal Poverty Guidelines are adjusted each year. So, it is wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to find out the current financial requirements for filing an Affidavit of Support.
Often, if the sponsor is a younger person, or has just started working, they will not have enough income to meet the Affidavit of Support requirements. In this situations, US immigration allows the petitioner to rely on a joint sponsor or a household member.
A joint sponsor is an individual who was not involved in initiating the immigration petition, but who wants to pledge support for the beneficiary. The joint sponsor does not replace the petitioner in the family-based visa process but files a separate Form I-864 to help the petitioner qualify under the income requirements necessary for an affidavit for a green card.
Likewise, a household member, such as a spouse, adult child, parent, or sibling to may file Form I-864a to pledge additional financial support. Moreover, if the beneficiary is the sponsor’s spouse, he or she may use their own income to meet the financial requirements, provided that this income will continue after they have immigrated to the United States.
By signing an affidavit of support, the sponsor, joint sponsor, or household member essentially makes three binding legal promises to the United States government:
Failure to comply with either of the obligations listed above may result in profound legal consequences, for instance:
Once an Affidavit of Support has been signed, the sponsor’s obligation to the beneficiary and (and to the United States government) will last until the first of one of the following five events takes place:
What’s more, in cases where the affidavit of support was signed in relation to a marriage-based green card, the sponsor’s obligation of support for the beneficiary will continue even if the couple gets divorced.
An Affidavit of Support is a binding legal contract between the person signing the document and the United States government. It is, therefore, extremely important that anyone thinking of signing an Affidavit of Support, as a sponsor, joint sponsor, or household member fully understand the consequences of doing so.
Many people sign Affidavits of Support to assist friends and family members without ever suffering financially for having done so. But, a potential sponsor needs to weigh his or her desire to help a friend or family member against the very real legal obligations that come with signing Form I-864.
If you are thinking about signing an Affidavit of Support for a spouse, family member, or friend first contact Attorney Eric Pricefor more details.
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