US immigration laws are strict and demanding. Knowing the ins and outs of current US immigration laws can help you navigate the process. And, having an experienced attorney at your side can lower your stress.
This post will explain the top three things you need to know about sponsoring an immigrant through the family-based “green card” or permanent residency program. For any corporate sponsors reading, you will need to go through a different process.
Qualifications for Sponsoring an Immigrant
The USCIS has established specific criteria that people must meet for sponsoring an immigrant.
- Sponsors must be US citizens or permanent residents.
- You must be at least 18 years old when you file to become a sponsor.
- Your primary residence must be in the US or a US territory.
- You have to meet specific financial requirements.
- You will need to file an Affidavit of Support.
We will break down these requirements in the following sections.
1. Financial Sponsorship
Immigrating to the US is not a cheap endeavor. A financial sponsor is a person, group, or organization that guarantees financial assistance to an immigrant.
When someone becomes a financial sponsor, they assume responsibility for the immigrant while in the US. That responsibility means that your income and assets are available to that immigrant for financial support if needed.
Becoming a Financial Sponsor: Filing an Affidavit of Support
To become a financial sponsor, you will need to file an Affidavit of Support. If you are Petitioning for your alien relative and acting as their financial sponsor, you will be required to file multiple forms with the USCIS, including:
Form I-130 will ask for details regarding your personal information and your relationship to the immigrant you intend to sponsor. Form I-864 asks for more detailed financial information.
In the Affidavit of Support, you will need to provide information such as your current salary, other income sources, and if you own any property inside and outside the US. There are also other forms in the I-864 category that you may need to complete, depending on your circumstances.
Please be aware that if the person you are sponsoring obtains any public benefits in the future, the US government can secure reimbursement from your assets and income. In this way, financial sponsorship acts as an insurance policy for the government.
2. Financial Requirements
If you want to sponsor an immigrant through the “green card” or permanent residency program, you will need to have an income level of at least 125% over the Federal poverty level. For military personnel, the income requirements for sponsorship are 100% of the poverty level.
What if you can not meet income requirements? Assets might help.
If you do not make enough income to sponsor an immigrant, that does not mean that it is game over. You can use your financial assets in addition to your income. Here are a few examples of assets you can use:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Real estate
- Business stakes
When you fill out the Form I-864, you will want to mention any assets you have. These assets, and your income, will help the USCIS decide if you have a sufficient financial profile to meet sponsorship requirements.
3. When Assets and Income are Not Enough: Joint Sponsorship
If you do not make enough income nor have enough assets relative to your household size to meet the financial sponsorship requirements, there is one more path you can take. You can file for joint sponsorship.
Through joint sponsorship, you and another person will agree to take responsibility for the immigrant together. Most people file for joint sponsorship because they can not meet the income and asset threshold to sponsor someone on their own.
What is the main requirement for joint sponsorship?
The main requirement for meeting joint sponsorship eligibility is that the second person will need to meet the income requirement by themselves.
In most cases, joint sponsors never have to pay for an immigrant. Usually, they help the initial sponsor meet financial eligibility requirements. Joint sponsors also act as insurance for the US government if an immigrant ever gets public benefits.
Joint sponsors have to meet the same requirements that you do when applying for sponsorship. The exception is that they do not need to have a relationship with the immigrant.
Have Questions and Concerns about Sponsorship? We Can Help.
US immigration law is complex, and it can be daunting to navigate by yourself. Attorney Sara J. Frankel has over 25 years of experience in federal administrative law. If you are trying to sponsor a family member through the “green card” or permanent residence program, she can help.
Contact the Law Offices of Sara J. Frankel and Associates, pc at 508-730-1451. Or fill out our online form for a free consultation.