In most cases, individuals intending to immigrate to the United States will have to demonstrate that they have adequate means to support themselves without requiring government assistance. In most family-based cases, this support is demonstrated by the petitioner (the individual who signs the I-130 on the immigrant’s behalf). If the petitioner does not have sufficient means to support the beneficiary, they can also submit a Form I-864 for a co-sponsor to share the responsibility.
An Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, is a legally enforceable contract between the signer and the United States Government where a sponsor accepts certain financial responsibility for the applicant immigrant. Before signing an I-864, or asking a potential sponsor to sign one on your behalf, it is important to understand the requirements of sponsorship.
The I-864 requires the sponsor to show that he or she can maintain the immigrant and their household at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Sponsors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents themselves, reside in the United States, and be at least 18 years old.
One of the responsibilities of the sponsor is that the sponsored immigrant can be found ineligible for certain public benefits based on the sponsor’s income or assets. In the event a sponsored immigrant does obtain public benefits, the government agency can sue the sponsor to recover their costs. The sponsor must provide the sponsored immigrant with the support necessary to maintain their household at the required 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The sponsored immigrant can also sue the sponsor for this support. Additionally, the sponsor must notify USCIS of any change in address within 30 days (Form I-865).
This financial responsibility lasts until one of the following happens: death of the sponsored immigrant, the sponsored immigrant attains U.S. citizenship or has worked the equivalent of 10 years in the United States (as calculated under the Social Security Act), the sponsored immigrant leaves the US and abandons their permanent residency, or the sponsored immigrant applies for and receives a new grant of adjustment of status based on a new I-864. Death of the sponsor terminates future obligations but does not discharge any amount owed before death. Importantly, divorce from the sponsored immigrant does not end the obligation.
If you have been asked to complete an Affidavit of Support, or if you would like to ask someone to complete one on your behalf, and you would like to discuss in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 427-6163 or schedule a consultation online. We recommend that sponsors and petitioners seek advice from separate attorneys to avoid a conflict of interest.