Cynthia Waisman attorney headshot

Blending Professionalism
With A Personal Touch

Family-Based Visas

One of the aspects of sponsoring someone on a family-based green card application is complying with the financial sponsorship requirements. If you are sponsoring someone for a family-based green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence), in order to petition for a person to obtain their lawful permanent status, an Affidavit of Support is required. This is done to secure that if the immigrant applies for certain public benefits, you agree to repay those benefits. The financial portions of the document require the sponsor to fill in information about wages, assets and other forms of income. There is a financial threshold for each sponsor based upon the amount of people living in the household and other individuals sponsored. In order to determine how much money must be used for the sponsorship, you can look at the I-864 P for each set of circumstances. Sometimes, the sponsor’s income is insufficient, so another sponsor, or perhaps more than one additional sponsor, is required. This can make a case more complicated and cause United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or Department of State (DOS) to ask more questions about the case. It is important to note that even if the sponsor’s income and assets are lower than the Poverty Guidelines demand, he or she must sign an Affidavit of Support. This is true even where a joint sponsor is required in a case.

The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract, meaning that either the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide adequate support to the immigrant. If sued, the government will seek sufficient assets to reimburse any public agencies that provided public benefits to the immigrant.

The sponsor’s responsibility under the I-864 contract lasts until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen; has earned 40 quarters of work, which is approximately 10 years; dies; or permanently leaves the United States. If the immigrant has worked in lawful status and earned work credits before applying for the green card, such work credits can count toward the 40 quarters. In the event of divorce, the sponsor remains responsible for the immigrant, as well as any joint sponsor. Moreover, the affidavit of support can be used as an alimony tool or count towards a settlement in a divorce proceeding.

In order to qualify as the sponsor, the person must satisfy the following requirements:

  • A U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Live in the United States or a U.S. territory or possession

Where the case is being prepared for consular filing, or the immigrant and/or sponsor reside overseas, the consulate may require proof that sponsor show that this is a temporary absence abroad, that the sponsor has maintained ties to the U.S., and that he or she intends to reestablish domicile there no later than the date that the immigrant is admitted as a permanent resident.

Finally, for sponsors who fail to honor their obligations under an I-864, there can be fines imposed. If for example, a sponsor, moves without providing an updated address via I-865 within 30 days of moving, there can be fines between $250 and $5,000 imposed.