When you are petitioning for a relative to come to the United States to live permanently, you may have to sign an Affidavit of Support. Here are some of the common questions that I receive in my role as an immigration lawyer in Miami:
What is an 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 person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative coming to live in the United States. The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member.
How long is the sponsor financially responsible for the immigrant?
The sponsor’s responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 quarters of work.
Who is required to submit an Affidavit of Support?
The following individuals are required by law to submit a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This has to be completed by the petitioner:
- All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (which include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21, including orphans) and relatives who qualify for immigration to the United States under one of the family based preferences:
- First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (Adult means 21 years of age or older)
- Second Preference: Spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried sons and daughters (regardless of age) of permanent residents and their unmarried children
- Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children
- Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children
- Employment based preference immigrants in cases only when a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative filed the immigrant visa petition, or such relative has a significant ownership interest (5% or more) in the entity that filed the petition.
If you fall outside of any other the categories listed above, I would suggest that you consult with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
What are the requirements to become a sponsor for an Affidavit of Support?
If you filed an immigrant visa petition for your relative, you must be the sponsor. The requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Age – you must also be at least 18 years old
- Citizenship – you must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
- Residence – you must reside in the United States. Note: If you live abroad, you may still be eligible to be a sponsor if you can show that your residence abroad is temporary, and that you still have your domicile in the United States.
What is a joint sponsor?
Simply put, a joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member with you. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as you, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor (or the joint sponsor and his or her household) must reach the 125% income requirement alone. Note – you cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.
If you have any questions as to whether you qualify as the applicant’s joint sponsor, you are encouraged to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
What kinds of requirements does a sponsor have to meet?
A sponsor has to demonstrate that he/she meets certain income requirements, including, but not limited to the following:
- Household income – this must be equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. If you do not know how to calculate this figure, you may want to consult with an immigration lawyer in Miami.
Note – If you, the sponsor, are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or child, your income only needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.
Responsibilities as a Sponsor
Signing the affidavit of support means accepting a grave responsibility. As a sponsor, you agree to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) generally until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work.
Your obligation also ends if you or the individual sponsored dies or if the individual sponsored ceases to be a permanent resident and departs the United States.
Note: Divorce does NOT end the sponsorship obligation.
If you think would like more information on Form I-864 (affidavit of support), please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305)895-2500 or visit our website at www.mmurraylaw.com .