Skip to main content

What is the Obligation of a Sponsor on a USCIS Form I-864, Affidavit of Support?

USCIS's Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is required whenever someone applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate or adjustment of status to permanent resident in the United States, based upon a family or spouse petition.  The Affidavit of Support is actually a legal contract between three parties, the beneficiary (the person immigrating), the sponsor (the person who signs the Form)  and the U.S. Government. The Affidavit of Support because a source of concern when and if the immigrant applies to a Federal, State, or local governmental agency for public benefits based on ability to pay, within the time frame covered by the Affidavit of Support.

When you sign an Affidavit of Support as a "sponsor" you are agreeing to provide support to maintain the sponsored person at an annual income that is not less than 125% of the Federal poverty guidelines. 
All sponsors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are at least 18 years of age and maintain a primary residence in the U.S. If you are the main sponsor and a U.S. citizen, you must be a brother, sister, adult child, parent or spouse of the intended immigrant. However, a "joint sponsor" (someone not related to the family, but is needed because the necessary family member does not make enough money) may be anyone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member with you. No family relationship is required.
When filing an immigrant petition for multiple family members, the person signing the form as the primary sponsor, AND any joint sponsors may divide responsibility for the intending immigrants. However, the primary sponsor is responsible for all of the people on the petition (for example, minor sons and daughters of your brother who you are sponsoring).

For those people asked to become a joint sponsor, it is very important to understand  they are making a contract with the U.S. Government, and it is a contract that the U.S. government and the foreign national beneficiary is able and willing to enforce. This is a serious commitment.
The obligation as a sponsor begins after the intending immigrant acquires permanent residence, either through entering the country on an immigrant visa or, if they are already in the U.S., by adjusting their status to permanent resident. The obligation can end in one of five different ways:
1) When the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen;
2) When the sponsored immigrant loses or relinquishes his or her permanent residence status;
3) When the sponsored immigrant obtains a new grant of Adjustment of Status in a removal proceeding;
4) When the sponsored immigrant has earned or been credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work under Title II of the Social Security Act; or
5) When the sponsored immigrant dies.
There have been very few cases of either government action or beneficiary action against sponsors  for failing to provide the required support for their relative(s). Given the budget problems of many state and federal agencies, it is surprising that there have not been greater attempts by governments to enforce the Affidavit of Support requirements against sponsors.

The typical case in which we have seen enforcement occur has been in divorce situations. On several occasions a foreign spouse divorces the U.S. spouse, then seeks alimony based upon the Affidavit of Support, to the amount of 125% of poverty level income, until one of the five "terminating events" occurs.
If you file an I-864 in order to immigrate a spouse, separation or divorce will not end the obligation. Termination of your support obligation does not relieve you (or your estate) of any reimbursement obligation for unpaid support before the obligation ended.
When people seek advise on whether to sign an Affidavit of Support for a relative or friend, ask this question:  "Am I willing to support them, always?"  If not, then do not sign the Affidavit of Support.


Popular posts from this blog

If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant? We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.
The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States. Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.
Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government. Trump's Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver.  We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:
Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), we strongly rec…

Why is USCIS Taking So Long to Renew DACA Work Permits?

If the calls to our office are any indicator, there are thousands of DACA recipients whose work permit applications were filed at least three months prior to expiration, who are still waiting for their renewed work permits.  Without renewed permits, these individuals lose the right to work legally, the right to drive, and may once again accrue unlawful presence.

The DHS published a notice in October 2014 advising DACA recipients that they could file their request for extension up to 150 days (5 months) prior to expiration.  As with all things government, very few of the DACA recipients, who tend not to frequent government websites, knew about the memo and many did not file so far before expiration perhaps thinking that extending a work permit was a like extending a drivers license, its is done in a few minutes.  As an experienced immigration lawyer will tell you, the USCIS does nothing quickly, and certainly does not worry that a person may lose their job or their driver's licens…
Si usted es inmigrante (incluso un ciudadano de los EE.UU.), aquí hay 9 cosas que usted debe saber.

¿Es usted un ciudadano estadounidense naturalizado, residente legal permanente, titular de una visa o inmigrante indocumentado? Le recomendamos que tome los siguientes pasos para protegerse de nuestra versión actual de América.
Las últimas semanas hemos recordado a los inmigrantes, incluso a los ciudadanos estadounidenses naturalizados, que no nacieron en los Estados Unidos. Nuestra oficina ha recibido innumerables llamadas telefónicas, mensajes de correo electrónico y mensajes de medios sociales de personas preocupadas por el futuro de su familia en los Estados Unidos.
La mayoría de gente quiere saber qué puede hacer ahora para protegerse de lo que promete ser una ola de actividad anti-inmigración por parte del gobierno federal. La orden ejecutiva de Trump sobre la aplicación de la ley interior tiene algunas disposiciones que deberían hacer temblar a la mayoría de los estadounidenses. …