Financial Responsibility of a U.S. Sponsor for an Immigrating Permanent Resident (2024)

A U.S. citizen or permanent resident who agrees to petition for someone to get a green card must agree to sponsor that person financially, as well.

If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder), and you petition for a member of your family to receive a green card, you will have to agree to sponsor that person financially as well. It's a serious, but not unlimited responsibility. What it means is explained in this article.

Purpose of Requiring U.S. Petitioner to Provide Financial Support to Immigrant

In order for would-be immigrant family members to succeed in obtaining a green card, they will need to prove (among other things) that they are not "inadmissible."

One of the grounds of inadmissibility found in the U.S. immigration laws is that the person is likely to become a "public charge." (See Immigration and Nationality Act, or I.N.A. § 212, 8 U.S.C. § 1182.) A public charge is someone who receives U.S. government assistance based on financial need.

As the petitioner and financial sponsor, you will not only need to show that your income and assets are high enough to avoid the immigrant becoming a public charge, but you'll have to promise to pay the government back if the immigrant ends up claiming certain types of public assistance benefits.

Unfortunately, this is not the end of the U.S. government's analysis. It can, and sometimes does, decide that despite the U.S. sponsor having met all the support requirements, the immigrant is still likely to become a public charge, perhaps because of health problems and no obvious source of employment or health insurance.

Promising Support to the Immigrant Using Form I-864 Affidavit of Support

You'll see how serious the U.S. government is about wanting a petitioner's promise of financial support when you fill out the required USCIS Form I-864. See Preparing I-864 Affidavit of Support Forms for more on what you'll need to complete.

The form will ask you for information about your household size, as well as your income and assets, and require you to attach proof, in the form of tax returns and other documentary evidence of your employment and of any assets being claimed.

By signing Form I-864, you are entering into an enforceable contract with the United States government. Your obligations under this contract do not end until the immigrant has either:

  • become a U.S. citizen
  • earned 40 work quarters in the U.S. (as defined by the Social Security Administration; this works out to approximately ten years)
  • died, or
  • permanently left the United States.

Note that divorce does not end a sponsor's obligations under the Affidavit of Support.

Exceptions to the U.S. Sponsor's Support Obligation

In some instances, the U.S. petitioner will not be looked to for financial support. These include where:

  • the immigrant has already worked legally in the United States (perhaps with a nonimmigrant visa or a work permit) for a total of 40 quarters.
  • the petitioning spouse has already worked 40 work quarters while married to the immigrant, or
  • the immigrant is a child who will become a U.S. citizen immediately upon approval or entry to the United States for a green card.

In any of these cases, the petitioner will need to file a form called I-864W in order to claim the exception.

Are the U.S. Petitioner's Income and Assets High Enough to Meet the Support Obligation?

As the U.S. sponsor, your assets and income must be at least 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines in order to show that you can maintain the applying immigrant as well as any other members of your household. For the latest table showing the required income amounts for different household sizes, see USCIS Form I-864P.

If your income alone isn't high enough, you (the petitioner) as well as the immigrant may count your assets, if they are readily convertible to cash, at a percentage of their full value (usually one fifth).

What If the U.S. Petitioner's Income and Assets Are Not High Enough to Meet the Support Obligation?

If someone else is willing to take responsibility for the immigrant, such as a friend or family member, that person can become a "joint sponsor," by filing an additional Affidavit of Support on the immigrants' behalf. That person would need to fill out a complete separate Form I-864. You can have up to two joint sponsors per family, but no more than one per immigrant.

Alternately, a member of your own household can agree to add earnings to the total support amount. That person would need to fill out a USCIS Form I-864A. In fact, the immigrant him- or herself can add income to the mix if already living with you in the United States and working legally in a job that will continue after getting the green card.

Long-Term Legal Obligations as an Immigrant's Petitioning Sponsor

You can be sued by the sponsored immigrant if you do not give sufficient financial support. Such lawsuits are rare, however.

You might also be asked for repayment and ultimately sued by a U.S. government agency from which the immigrant received a mean-tested public benefit such as food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, or State Child Health Insurance benefits. Consult an attorney if this happens.

Financial Responsibility of a U.S. Sponsor for an Immigrating Permanent Resident (2024)


Financial Responsibility of a U.S. Sponsor for an Immigrating Permanent Resident? ›

As the U.S. sponsor, your assets and income must be at least 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines in order to show that you can maintain the applying immigrant as well as any other members of your household. For the latest table showing the required income amounts for different household sizes, see USCIS Form I-864P.

What is the financial responsibility for sponsoring an immigrant? ›

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.

How long are you financially responsible for someone you sponsor in the USA? ›

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 is the financial requirement to sponsor? ›

What are the financial qualifications for an affidavit of support? The law requires a sponsor to prove an income level at or above 125 percent of the Federal poverty level. (For active duty military personnel, the income requirement is 100 percent of the poverty level when sponsoring a husband, wife, or children.)

What is proof of income for green card sponsor? ›

For ALL sponsors:

A copy of your individual federal income tax return, including W-2s for the most recent tax year, or a statement and/or evidence describing why you were not required to file. Also include a copy of every Form 1099, schedule, and any other evidence of reported income.

What are the sponsor responsibilities? ›

The sponsor is an individual, company, institution, or organization that takes responsibility for the initiation, management, and/or financing of a clinical trial, but typically does not conduct the study.

What significant responsibility does a sponsor have? ›

The project sponsor is in charge of making sure that a project meets its objectives by playing a significant role in offering direction, guidance, strategic planning, and support to the rest of the project team.

How long am I responsible if I sponsor an immigrant? ›

The sponsor is also responsible for supporting the immigrant for 10 years or until the immigrant becomes a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident. If the immigrant gets divorced, the sponsor is still responsible for supporting them financially. You may have a limited ability to sponsor other immigrants in the future.

What are the risks of sponsoring an immigrant? ›

Form I-864 is legally enforceable, meaning that if you fail to meet your obligations as a sponsor, you can be rightfully sued by the beneficiary. Additionally, withdrawing from a sponsorship is exceptionally difficult, and usually impossible unless you can prove that the petition was obtained fraudulently.

Is an immigration sponsor responsible for medical bills? ›

Am I responsible for their 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.

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.

What is the risk in sponsoring an immigrant? ›

If the sponsored immigrant has to rely on public benefits to reside in the country, you are already failing in your responsibility and the immigrant can sue you for not meeting up. Note that you are not responsible for the immigrant's bills, debts and tax return.

What is the income requirement to sponsor an immigrant? ›

The minimum income requirement for sponsoring an immigrant ranges from $22,888 for a 2-person civilian household to $58,288 for an 8-person civilian household.

How much assets do I need to sponsor an immigrant? ›

The net value of assets must be at least five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty guideline for the household size.


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