Affidavit of Support Rules and Responsibilities
What is an Affidavit of Support & Who is Required to Be a Sponsor?
If you are bringing a relative to live permanently in the United States, you must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting this family member. You accept this responsibility and become your relative's sponsor by completing and signing a document called an affidavit of support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until your relative becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years.) An affidavit of support, is required for all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Who is Required to Be a Sponsor? If you filed an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) for your relative, you must be the sponsor. You must also be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. You must have a domicile in the United States or a territory or possession of the United States. Usually, this requirement means you must actually live in the United States, or a territory or possession, in order to be a sponsor.
Can Anyone Else be a Sponsor and Who Can be a Joint Sponsor and When is Joint Sponsor Allowed?
INA section 213A permits both a "joint sponsor" and a "substitute sponsor" in certain cases. If the visa petitioner's household income is not sufficient to meet the requirements of INA section 213A and 8 C.F.R. Â§ 213a, INA section 213A permits a joint sponsor to sign an affidavit of support, in addition to the affidavit of support signed by the visa petitioner. 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 percent income requirement alone. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement. You are required to provide U.S. Federal income tax returns for the 3 most recent tax years as well as proof of current employment, W-2's and proof of Citizenship or LPR status
What are the Income Requirements for an Affidavit of Support?
You also must meet certain income requirements (whether you are a sponsor, a joint sponsor, or a substitute sponsor). You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level for your household size for that particular year. Your household size includes you, your dependents, any relatives living with you, and the immigrants you are sponsoring. For example, if you have a spouse and two children and you want to sponsor your brother and his wife, you must prove that your household income is equal to or higher than 125 percent of the U.S. poverty level for a family of six. Each year the Department of Homeland Security Publishes a Poverty Guideline that can be found at www.uscis.gov. It is form number I-864P. Under certain circumstances, you may also include assets such as money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds and property of yourself, members of your household as well as the sponsored immigrant himself to meet the poverty guideline.
What are my responsibilities as a sponsor?
When you sign the Affidavit of Support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. Any joint sponsors or household members whose income is used to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant. If the immigrant receives any "means-tested public benefits," you are responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency can sue you in court to get the money owed. When in doubt, ask the benefit provider whether the benefit is a "means-tested public benefit." Currently, Federal means-tested public benefits include Food Stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP). States may also designate certain programs as means tested.