What is an Affidavit of Support?
An Affidavit of Support is Form I-864 under Section 213A of the I.N.A. The Affidavit is a signed, legal contract where an individual promises their financial support and financial resources to someone seeking a green card. In many cases, the person who signs the Affidavit of Support is the spouse of an individual seeking green card status, but being a spouse is not a requirement for signing the document.
The person who signs the Affidavit of Support becomes a financial sponsor once the immigrant obtains permanent resident status. This contract is a legally enforceable document, and the signee’s responsibility lasts until the person designated for sponsorship on the document becomes a U.S. citizen, or they are credited with 40 quarters of work. This can take up to ten years in most cases. For those who intend to financially support an individual seeking a green card, it’s recommended to speak to an immigration law firm first, so you fully understand your legal rights and obligations.
What are the responsibilities of a sponsor?
Those who sign an Affidavit of Support are legally responsible for offering financial support to the sponsored immigrant listed in the document. This legal responsibility lasts until the listed individual becomes a U.S. citizen, is credited with 40 quarters of work or passes away before receiving either. It’s imperative that signees understand that legal responsibility does not end with a divorce or separation. The obligation still stands even if a couple divorces.
If a sponsored immigrant applies and receives means-tested public benefits, the signee must repay the cost of the benefits to the providing agency. Failing to repay any debts could mean legal recourse is taken against you. You could be sued in court by either the acting agency or the sponsored immigrant listed on the Affidavit.
Can these responsibilities be combined with other sponsors?
It is possible to have joint sponsors or other household members listed on the Affidavit of Support. They can combine their income with the main sponsor’s income to meet eligibility requirements. In these cases, joint sponsors are also legally responsible for financially supporting the immigrant. Joint sponsors are held jointly liable along with the petitioner, or main sponsor listed on the Affidavit, and can also be sued in court for any debts owed.
What are the eligibility requirements for signing an Affidavit of Support?
- A financial sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder, at least 18 years of age, and must reside in the U.S.
- Financial sponsors must meet annual income requirements of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines based on household size. Sponsors can also include assets to meet these requirements.
- Non-family members can also help the petitioning sponsor meet these financial requirements.
- The sponsored immigrant, or beneficiary, can also use their income to meet the requirements. However, they can only include their income if it will continue from the same source after the immigrant obtains a green card.
Signing an Affidavit of Support is a major responsibility and a binding legal contract. It is not something you should enter into lightly. If you’re considering signing an Affidavit of Support, please contact the law firm of Landerholm Immigration A.P.C. to explore your options and learn more about how these legal contracts operate.