Family-based immigration petitions require a sponsor. A sponsor needs to provide Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) as a way to ensure that a foreign national seeking a Green Card will have adequate financial support and will not rely on the U.S. government for public assistance.
In most cases, a person petitioning a foreign national for an immigrant visa is the main sponsor. However, there are other acceptable options.
A sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, at least 18 years old, residing in the U.S. (S)he must meet a specific annual income requirement, which is based on the state, household size, and relations to the U.S. armed forces. For 2019, a minimum annual income required to sponsor a spouse or a relative for a Green Card is $21,137 for a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, who is not in active military duty, and assuming it is a two-person household. Income level requirement for Affidavit of Support is listed on the chart published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support.
If the main sponsor does not meet the minimum annual income requirement, income from other household members, such as siblings, parents, and children can be included. In this case, a petitioner still has to file Form I-864. Other household members should submit Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, to establish financial commitment.
If combined household income still does not meet the annual income requirement, then a third person outside of the household can be a secondary co-sponsor, also known as “joint sponsor”. This person does not have to be related to the family and live in the household. As opposed to household members, a joint sponsor’s income is not being added to the total household income of the petitioner. Instead, (s)he must demonstrate an individual income that satisfies the minimum annual income requirement.
Having a joint sponsor doesn’t excuse the petitioner from submitting Form I-864. The petitioner must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, even if (s)he does not meet the financial requirement. A co-sponsor needs to file a separate Affidavit of Support.
Filing Affidavit of Support and meeting financial requirements can be confusing. It is strongly recommended to consult with an experienced immigration attorney, who can help to assess a petitioner’s financial eligibility for Affidavit of Support and determine whether there is a need for a co-sponsor(s). At Root Law Group we offer free in-office consultations with our knowledgeable immigration attorneys specializing in a variety of family-based immigration petitions. Call us today at (323) 456-7600 to schedule your consultation!