Do I-864 sponsors have to pay medical bills? – Bennett Dental (2024)

Do I-864 sponsors have to pay medical bills? – Bennett Dental (1)
Here’s a question I get frequently from I-864 sponsors: if the person I sponsors gets into a serious accident, am I going to have to pay the medical bill? Short answer: probably not.

There are two different financial promises made by a person who signs a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The first is to ensure the beneficiary has income at or above125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. There is a lot of information about the obligation available on this site (start here to learn more).

Thesecond promiseis the one that creates concern about medical bills. Here’s the language in the Form I-864 itself:

If a Federal, State or local agency, or a private agency provides any covered means-tested public benefit to the person who becomes a permanent resident based on the Form I-864 that you signed, the agency may ask you to reimburse them for the amount of the benefits they provided. If you do not make the reimbursem*nt, the agency may sue you for the amount that the agency believes you owe.

In other words, if the I-864 beneficiary receives certain public benefits, the sponsor can be sued for the cost of those benefits. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.

What is meant by means-tested public benefits?

“Means-tested public benefits” is a legal term of art. Generally, these are a type of federally-funded public benefit programs, loosely referred to sometimes as “welfare”. (The term welfare is so broad it really doesn’t mean anything, and it’s not a legal term). According to the Department of State’s description of means-tested benefits, theyinclude:

  • Food stamps;
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Medicaid;
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and
  • State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Importantly, notice what’snoton that list: general debt. So let’s say the I-864 beneficiary goes out and buys a flat screen TV on credit, then doesn’t pay the bill. The government isn’t going to swoop in and sue the sponsor, because the TV debt has absolutely nothing to do with a means-tested public benefits program.

What about medical debt? That really depends on how the medical care was delivered.The government can come after the I-864 sponsor only if there was a means-tested public benefit. If an I-864 beneficiary is enrolled in Medicaid and has a car accident, definitely the I-864 sponsor could be sued for a huge amount of money.

But the government cannot sue the sponsor merely because a hospital provided expensive services to the I-864 beneficiary. Again, if the beneficiary didn’t receive a means-tested benefit, the government cannot come after the sponsor.

Could a medical provider sue the sponsor directly?

So far we’ve been talking about the government getting involved to seek repayment of benefits. Can a medical provider sue an I-864 sponsor if the beneficiary has medical debt?

Remember there are two promises in the I-864: (1) ensuring income to the beneficiary; and (2) repaying means-tested public benefits.Looking at the first promise, ahospital could say that the sponsor’s income should be available to the beneficiary to repay medical bills.

First off,I have never heard of a medical provider suing an I-864 sponsor. Moreover, it is unlikely that such a lawsuit would succeed. The I-864 is a contract between the sponsor and the United States government. In contract law terms, the immigrant is a “third-party beneficiary” of the I-864. This means that she has the ability to enforce rights under the contract even though she isn’t a party to the contract (meaning she wasn’t one of the parties entering into the agreement… it was just made for her benefit).

The I-864makes very clear that the immigrant is a third-party beneficiary with rights to enforce the contract. So does the federal statute that creates the I-864. But there are no similar provisions for medical providers. It would take some very creative arguments by a hospital to explain why they have the legal ability to enforce rights under the I-864 contact.

I won’t go on the record saying this sort of lawsuit is completely impossible, but success seems unlikely.If you’ve heard of such a suit, please let me know!

Bottom line.

Here’s the bottom line:

  1. The government gets involved only if there are means-tested public benefits. The government can’t sue the I-864 sponsorjust because the I-864 beneficiary has general debt, including medical debt.
  2. There is no obvious way that a medical provider could sue the I-864 sponsor directly, since the I-864doesn’t say that such third-parties can enforce the contract.
Footnote: government suits against sponsors seem to berare.

Even in cases where an I-864 beneficiarydoes receive public benefits, it is rare for the sponsor to be sued. I’m not aware of a single case in my home state of Washington where an I-864 sponsor has been sued by government agencies. In the recent past there were some efforts made to collect the cost of benefits from I-864 sponsors on the East Coast, including New York. But I haven’t heard any reports of such cases in the past year.

Certainlya sponsor cannot assume he won’t be sued. Government agencies have the right to seek repayment ofmeans-tested public benefits, so sponsors shouldn’t rest too easily just because this doesn’t happen all the time. The point is only that it appears to be relatively rare that this happens.

Photo credit: hywards of

Do I-864 sponsors have to pay medical bills? – Bennett Dental (2024)


Do I-864 sponsors have to pay medical bills? – Bennett Dental? ›

Will the sponsor have to repay for that? This is a common misconception about the I-864. No, there is no open-ended responsibility to repay medical bills. The only related obligation under the I-864 is to repay the cost of "federally funded means-tested benefits" if demanded by the government.

Do I-864 sponsors have to pay medical bills? ›

You may be responsible for paying their medical bills. During the green card sponsorship, you might have been required to sign an affidavit (such as USCIS Form I-864) with the oath that you would be responsible for their medical expenses.

Is the sponsor of a green card holder responsible for medical bills? ›

No. The sponsor is not responsible for any debts that the immigrant might incur. This includes all types of debt (credit card, medical, student loan, etc). Even if the immigrant is sued by a creditor or files bankruptcy, the sponsor will not be affected.

Will the sponsor have to repay benefits used by the sponsored immigrants? ›

A sponsor who signs an “enforceable” affidavit of support (Form I‑864) may have to repay “means-tested public benefits” used by the immigrant after they become a lawful permanent resident. The only federal benefits that are considered “means-tested” are: Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What are the risks of being a sponsor for an immigrant? ›

Liabilities of Sponsoring an Immigrant
  • Risks from the Immigrant. ...
  • Immigrant May Sue You for Financial Support. ...
  • Sponsorship is not Necessarily Terminated by Divorce. ...
  • Risk from the Government. ...
  • US Government May Sue You for Reimbursem*nt. ...
  • USCIS May Fine You. ...
  • The Opportunity Cost. ...
  • The Additional Cost in a Worst Case Scenario.

What is a sponsor liable for? ›

For what is a sponsor liable? In essence, sponsoring an immigrant means taking on the legal responsibility of financially providing for the person you sponsor during their time in the United States. By signing Form I-864, you're agreeing that you have sufficient income to take care of the immigrant.

Are visa sponsors liable for unpaid medical bills by visitors in the USA? ›

This should be stated on your I-134 document. If your visitor seeks medical services from the healthcare provider, and fails to pay the medical bills, you, as the sponsor, can be held responsible for these unpaid expenses. The service provider/hospital runs its services from the public funds.

Are you financially responsible if you sponsor someone? ›

The spouse who files the Affidavit of Support is referred to as the sponsoring spouse. The sponsoring spouse must generally provide financial support until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen or has completed 40 quarters of work.

How long are you financially responsible for someone you sponsor? ›

The sponsor's financial responsibility usually lasts until the applicant either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work (usually 10 years) under the Social Security Act.

What am I responsible for if I sponsor an immigrant? ›

When you sign the affidavit of support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s), generally until they become U.S. citizens or are credited with 40 quarters of work.

What does a sponsor get in return for sponsoring? ›

Sponsors can help you build a prominent reputation within the industry. In exchange for exposure at the Event, they can offer a venue, catering, digital marketing, technology gear, prizes, and so much more.

What are three benefits of sponsorship to the sponsor? ›

Before you sign any contracts, make sure the agreement gives you the level of exposure you want.
  • Brand Visibility. ...
  • Consumer Perception. ...
  • Conduct Targeted Marketing. ...
  • Foster Business Relationships. ...
  • Efficient Lead Generation and Sales. ...
  • Community Goodwill. ...
  • Boost Your Social Strategy. ...
  • Return on Investment.

What are two benefits a sponsor would expect to receive as a result of sponsoring an athlete? ›

Benefits for sponsors

Raises awareness of their company or brand. Advertises products and services. Promotes a positive and healthy image of their company by linking it with a popular activity, even if the product is not particularly healthy.

What are the disadvantages of sponsoring? ›

Drawbacks of Corporate Sponsorships
  • Sponsorships are usually tied to an event or program with production value and require a significant investment of time and energy.
  • Sponsors may have unrealistic expectations related to how their brand is promoted.
Apr 18, 2024

What is the minimum income to sponsor an immigrant? ›

2024 Income Requirements for Green Card Sponsors

The most common minimum annual income required to sponsor a spouse or family member for a green card is $25,550. This assumes that the sponsor — the U.S. citizen or current green card holder — is not on active military duty and is sponsoring only one relative.

What are the obligations of I 864? ›

This affidavit is a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. Government. Completing and signing Form I-864 makes you the sponsor. You must show on this affidavit that you have enough income and/or assets to maintain the intending immigrants and the rest of your household at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

What is the responsibility of I 864 sponsor? ›

This affidavit is a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. Government. Completing and signing Form I-864 makes you the sponsor. You must show on this affidavit that you have enough income and/or assets to maintain the intending immigrants and the rest of your household at 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

What are the sponsor expenses? ›

To qualify as a valid business expense, sponsorship costs must be exclusively for trade purposes. This principle applies to all business-related expenditures. For businesses seeking exposure to a wider audience, sports clubs and venues often offer valuable sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

Does a sponsor introduce a bill? ›

U.S. Congress

A sponsor in the United States Congress is the first member of the House or Senate to be listed among the potentially numerous lawmakers who introduce a bill for consideration. Committees are occasionally identified as sponsors of legislation as well.


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