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The Financial Obligation of Sponsoring a Spouse/Relative for a U.S. Green Card

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning for a spouse/relative to receive a U.S. green card must also sponsor that person financially.


The U.S. immigration laws require the petitioning U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to vow to financially support their foreign-national spouse/relative using form I864, Affidavit of Support.


What You Need to Know about Form I-864, Affidavit of Support


Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is required for most family-based immigrant petitions to show that a sponsor has adequate means to support the intending immigrant and the intending immigrant is not likely to become dependent upon government resources.


Who Completes Form I-864?

The Petitioner—also referred to as the main sponsor or petitioning sponsor

A Joint Sponsor—a second sponsor used when the petitioner does not meet the income requirement for Form I-864

A Substitute Sponsor—if the petitioner has died after Form I-130 is approved but before the intending immigrant became a lawful permanent resident, a substitute sponsor will be required.

Sponsors must be 18 years old or older, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, be domiciled in the U.S. or a territory or possession of the United States, and prove an income level at or above 125 percent of the Federal poverty level (100 percent for active duty military personnel).


What is the Sponsor’s Contractual Obligation?

Form I-864 is a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. Government; completing and signing the form confirms that you are sponsoring the intending immigrant and agree to the contractual obligations of the Affidavit of Support, including using your resources to support the intending immigrant.

Once sponsored, the immigrant may become ineligible for certain Federal, state, or local public means-tested benefits and, if benefits are received by the sponsored immigrant, the agency providing the benefits may request that the sponsor repays the cost of those benefits.

A sponsor’s obligation to support the sponsored immigrant continues until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work in the U.S. (generally, 10 years), the sponsored immigrant loses or voluntarily gives up their permanent resident status, or dies.


What is the Minimum Income Requirement?

A sponsor must earn at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) provides a chart on their website listing the income requirements for Form I-864.


What if the Petitioner Does Not Meet the Income Requirement?

In cases where a petitioner does not meet the minimum income requirements, the petitioning may use assets, add the income of a member of the household by submitting Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, or add a Joint Sponsor to meet the income requirement.


What if the Petitioner is Unemployed?

An unemployed petitioner must still complete an Affidavit of Support form. The petitioner may use assets, a joint sponsor, or a household member’s income to meet the income requirement.


What are the Requirements for a Joint Sponsor?

A joint sponsor has the same requirements and obligations as the petitioning sponsor, however, a joint sponsor’s income cannot be added to the petitioning sponsor’s income. The joint sponsor must independently meet the full income requirement listed for their household size plus the intending immigrant(s).


What If I Am Self-Petitioning?

Those filing under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are not subject to the public charge rule and are exempt from filing Form I-864.


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