Sponsoring someone to move permanently to the United States is a noble undertaking, but it’s not without its challenges.
U.S. immigration law is notorious for being difficult to navigate, leaving immigrants and their sponsors confused and upset. If you’re trying to sponsor an immigrant—whether on a family-based or employment-based petition—there are a few things you should know.
Here, we will guide you through the requirements for financial sponsorship and the overall process. Need an extra hand? Contact an experienced immigration attorney at the Law Office of Lina Baroudi today.
Financial Sponsorship, Explained
A financial sponsor takes on the financial responsibility of supporting an applicant for permanent residency. Sponsors must show that they’re qualified to do this by providing financial documentation demonstrating this ability along with their petition.
This legal obligation only expires if the person becomes a U.S. citizen, has worked for 40 quarters in the United States (approximately ten years), returns to their home country permanently, or dies. It’s important to note that sponsorship doesn’t end when individuals divorce in marriage-based cases unless the non-U.S. ex-spouse returns permanently to their home country.
Who Can Sponsor an Immigrant?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets guidelines for sponsoring an immigrant.
Basic eligibility requirements include:
- U.S. citizenship
- Age 18 or older
- Living within the U.S.
Family members or employers can sponsor an immigrant for permanent residency in the U.S.
Let’s look at each scenario.
To sponsor a family member on a family-based petition, you must file Form I-30, Petition for Alien Relative, among other forms, and agree to be their financial sponsor by completing and filing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This document shows the sponsor’s income and helps deter immigrants from becoming a public charge—or someone primarily dependent on government assistance programs.
To sponsor an employee on an employment-based petition, you will start by filing Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Workers. Most employers will not have to financially support an immigrant since they should be able to support themselves. However, in limited cases, employment-based immigrants may need to fill out this form.
Minimum Income Requirements for Financial Sponsorship
As stated above, if you financially sponsor an immigrant, you must fill out Form I-864, Affidavit of Support—a legally enforceable contract to accept financial responsibility for the immigrant.
There are minimum annual income requirements to do so. You must show that your household income exceeds 125% of the federal poverty guidelines based on your household size. However, if you are active duty military and the sponsored immigrant is your child or spouse, that requirement is reduced to 100% of the federal poverty level.
I Don’t Meet the Annual Income Requirement to Sponsor an Immigrant — Now What?
Let’s say that you have a family of four, and you’re applying to sponsor an immigrant to the U.S. You need an income of $34,687.50 to qualify for sponsorship based on current poverty level guidelines.
But if you don’t meet these requirements, you may have another option.
If you have an additional household member who will agree to have their assets valued for financial sponsorship, they can sign Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. By signing, they consent to have their assets used for the financial assistance of the relative applying for permanent residence. Or, on certain occasions, non-family members may act as co-sponsor.
How to File an Affidavit of Support
The Affidavit of Support should be filed when the sponsored immigrant has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview.
With your application, you must include the following:
- A copy of your most recent tax return
- Evidence of employment
If other household members’ income is being considered to qualify, then include Form I-864A and supporting documentation for everyone applying.
The affidavit should also be notarized and given to your family member to file with their application for a green card. There is no cost if you file an Affidavit of Support within the U.S.
FAQs: Immigrant Sponsor Requirements
What happens if a sponsor dies?
If the original sponsor dies after the visa petition is approved and USCIS decides to continue with the petition, a substitute sponsor can take over. A substitute sponsor has the same responsibilities as the original sponsor and is subject to the same requirements.
They will also need to file an Affidavit of Support form, and must be related to the immigrant in one of the following ways:
- Child (if at least 18 years of age)
- The legal guardian of the beneficiary
What is joint sponsorship?
If you have a second person willing to pledge financial support for the immigrant, you can enter into a joint sponsorship. Joint sponsors do not have to be related to the immigrant to apply.
However, keep in mind that joint sponsorship does not circumvent income requirements. The incomes of both sponsors will be weighed separately against the above income requirements (125% above the poverty line). A joint sponsor is not required but may benefit the immigrant’s case.
Contact an Experienced California Immigration Lawyer Today
Financially sponsoring an immigrant is only the first step towards realizing your American dream. A California immigration attorney can guide you through the next steps forward to seeing it through.
If you’re looking to sponsor a family member to the United States, know that this will be a long, difficult journey. But with 40 years of experience in the field, the Law Office of Lina Baroudi has helped countless families make their immigration dreams a reality.
The Law Office of Lina Baroudi is not your typical immigration attorney firm — we’re compassionate and will go the extra mile on your behalf. And when it comes to your family’s future, you should expect nothing less. We want to hear from you. It takes nothing to get the legal advice you deserve – call now for your free consultation.