How do I financially sponsor someone who wants to immigrate to the United States?
Under the immigration laws of the United States, every individual who immigrates to the U.S. based on a petition filed by a relative must have a financial sponsor. When a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident files a Petition for Alien Relative, he or she must agree to be the financial sponsor and file an affidavit of support when the time comes for the petitioned relative to actually immigrate to the U.S. If the petitioning United States citizen or lawful permanent resident Green Card holder does not meet the financial qualifications at that time, he or she must still file an Affidavit of Support, and accept responsibility for the alien, but the relative must find other individuals who meet the requirements and are willing to make a commitment by filing a joint sponsor affidavit of support.
If you are currently dealing with issues regarding your U.S. green card and immigration law, our experienced Los Angeles immigration attorneys can guide you through this time and protect your future well-being. Contact us for your free initial consultation.
What is the purpose of the affidavit of support?
An affidavit of support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. The purpose of the affidavit of support is to help ensure that new immigrants will not need to rely on receiving public benefits such as Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or any other taxpayer funded program once immigrating to the United States. The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative or other individual coming to live in the United States. The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member. If a person for whom you file an affidavit of support becomes a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) and is later given certain public benefits, the agency that issued the benefits can require that you repay the money.
Who must have an affidavit of support in order to immigrate?
Anyone who is applying to become a U.S. lawful permanent resident through a family sponsored petition is required to have a financial sponsor. This is also the case when a family member is coming to work for a relative or for a company in which a relative owns 5 percent or more of the company.
The person who filed the petition must file an affidavit of support. If he or she does not, then the sponsorship portion of the application is not complete and the person wanting to immigrate will not be given permission based on that petition. To determine whether you need to file an affidavit of support, or for help in filing it, please contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys at JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office.
What are the financial requirements for an affidavit of support?
U.S. immigration law requires a sponsor to prove that their annual income level is at or above 125 percent of the Federal poverty level. However, active duty military personnel sponsoring an immigrant are only required to meet 100 percent of the Federal poverty line.
If you are unable to meet the income requirement, assets such as checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds and property may be considered in determining your financial ability. Each year the Federal poverty levels are updated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
I filed a petition for my relative but I do not meet the income requirement. Can anyone else be a financial sponsor?
If you are unable to meet the income requirements to sponsor a relative, the income of certain other household members can be added to your income level but they must sign an Affidavit of Support Contract between Sponsor and Household Member.
If you are still unable to meet the financial criteria to sponsor a relative, another person must complete a separate affidavit of support; this person is known as a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor must meet all sponsorship requirements separately, including the minimum income level requirement and must be willing to assume, along with the petitioner, financial liability for the sponsored immigrant(s).
All sponsors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be at least 18 years of age and must be living in the United States when the affidavit of support is filed. Our immigration clients sometimes must rely on a joint sponsor, co-sponsor or alternative documentation of assets or income. By working with an experienced and knowledgeable family immigration attorney, you save yourself time, trouble, and the potential for delays or outright denial caused by incomplete or improperly prepared immigration paperwork. Call or email our immigration and visa attorneys for a free initial consultation.
When must the affidavit of support be filed for my green card petition?
It is not necessary to file the affidavit of support with the initial filing. However, once the beneficiary of the petition comes closer to the actual USCIS assessment, an affidavit of support with an application for either an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident will need to be submitted. Contact JCS Immigration and Visa to speak with our team of experienced immigration attorneys who can help with your important immigration matters.
What happens if a person I financially sponsor gets public benefits after becoming a U.S. legal permanent resident?
If the sponsor does not provide basic support to the immigrants they sponsor, those sponsored immigrants, or the Federal or State agency that gave the benefits to the sponsored relatives, can seek reimbursement of the funds through legal action against the sponsor.
When does my financial responsibility end?
An affidavit of support is enforceable against the sponsor until the person they sponsored either:
Becomes a U.S. citizen; or
Is credited with 40 quarters of work in the U.S. from the SSA (usually 10 years); or
Leaves the United States permanently; or