How to Sponsor an Immigrant in 2023 | AZ Immigration Attorney (2024)


How to Sponsor an Immigrant in 2023 | AZ Immigration Attorney (1)

  • Immigration

Complete 2023 Guide to Sponsoring an Immigrant

No matter where you live, being close to family and friends is important. Living in a different country than your close friends and family members is tough, especially if traveling to see them is expensive. Luckily, U.S. immigration law allows citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their friends and family. Sponsorship allows friends and family to immigrate to the United States to be close to their loved ones. In this article, we outline how to sponsor an immigrant family member or friend.

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our team is incredibly passionate about supporting immigrants and their families on the road to citizenship and lawful permanent resident status. If you want to become a financial sponsor for an immigrant friend or family member, we’re here to guide you through the process. Although this process can seem complicated, our Phoenix immigration attorneys will make the process easier. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.

What Is an Immigration Sponsor?

Under immigration laws, financial sponsors pledge to financially support an immigrant on their way to getting their lawful permanent resident card (green card). To officially become a sponsor, they must sign an affidavit of support. This is essentially a contract the sponsor signs that states the immigrant will not likely become a public charge with their financial support.

What Does It Mean to Sponsor an Immigrant?

Sponsoring an immigrant is a big decision no matter your relationship with the aspiring immigrant. When someone becomes a sponsor for an immigrant, then pledge to take financial responsibility for that person. To do this, the sponsor must make a certain amount of money. If they can meet these financial obligations, the immigrant will not be barred from entry based on the public charge rule.

Sponsoring immigrants is not a decision to take lightly. If you want to sponsor an immigrant friend or family member, we suggest speaking with an immigration lawyer beforehand. We will carefully evaluate your situation and give legal advice about how to proceed.

What Are the Requirements to Sponsor an Immigrant?

To sponsor an immigrant, you must meet certain requirements set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These requirements are as follows.

  • Must be 18 years old when you file Form I-130.
  • Must be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident.
  • You must live in the United States or a U.S. territory and have proof of domicile.
  • Must meet the financial requirements.
  • Must fill out Form I-864.

Importantly, those who only hold a U.S. visa may not become financial sponsors for immigrants.

Immigration Sponsorship Income Requirements for 2023

The United States outlines certain annual income requirements that a financial sponsor must meet before they can officially sponsor a friend or family member. While these requirements vary depending on the sponsor’s family size, the general rule is that the income must be at least 125% of the federal poverty level. Therefore, a financial sponsor who is sponsoring only one immigrant and no family members must make at least $24,650 annually. This figure also assumes the sponsor is not currently on active duty in the military.

The minimum annual income requirements based on families of two or more are shown in the chart below.

Household Size (including yourself and your spouse)Sponsors in 48 states, plus D.C., plus U.S. territoriesAlaska SponsorsHawaii Sponsors
Added for each additional person:$6,425$8,038$7,387

Military personnel have slightly different financial requirements from non-military civilians. Rather than meeting 125% of the federal poverty guidelines, they must only meet 100% of the federal poverty guidelines. We outline these figures in the chart below.

Household Size (including yourself and your spouse)Sponsors in 48 states, plus D.C., plus U.S. territoriesAlaska SponsorsHawaii Sponsors
Added for each additional person:$5,140$6,430$5,910

What If I Don’t Meet the Income Requirements?

If you alone don’t make enough money to support an immigrant, you can ask for help from a joint sponsor. A joint sponsor usually does not live in your household. They must also be willing to accept financial responsibility for the immigrant seeking a green card. Co-sponsors must also fill out an affidavit of support (Form I-864) and meet the financial requirements independently.

This means that the original sponsor and joint sponsor cannot pool their income to meet those requirements. If the sponsor must meet $31,075 with their household, the co-sponsor must make this same amount with their household.

Notably, aspiring immigrants can also use their own income to meet the financial requirements. However, this source of income must continue once they obtain their green card. For example, maybe the immigrant has a remote job that they will still have once they move to the United States. They can use this income to meet the financial requirements for sponsorship.

How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor an Immigrant?

Financially sponsoring an immigrant doesn’t involve specific fees or costs. You must file an affidavit of support (Form I-864), which is free to file. However, many sponsors elect to pay for the costs of the immigration process as well. These costs can range from around $1,000 up to $2,000.

Who Can You Sponsor for Immigration?

Sponsors are not required to be family members of the immigrant they want to sponsor. This is the same in cases of joint sponsorship. Generally, the following sponsorship situations are the most common.

  • Family-based immigration applications: Immediate relatives, including parents, spouses, and minor, unmarried children. Family preference applications allow sponsorship for non-immediate relatives. This includes siblings, married children, and non-minor children of the sponsor.
  • Fiance visa or spouse visa applications: You can financially sponsor your spouse or fiance in their immigration application. The spouse visa and fiance visa differ in many ways, so it’s important to research the processes before beginning.
  • Employment-based immigration applications: Different work visas apply to different employees, but these employees are usually sponsored by their employers.
  • Co-sponsor an immigrant friend: Friends cannot directly sponsor immigrants, but they may become joint sponsors in their friends’ applications.

Can a U.S. Citizen Sponsor a Family Member?

Yes. As long as you are a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may be able to sponsor your family member. Two categories of family immigration visas exist – immediate relative and family preference visas.

  • Immediate relative visa: These visas are reserved for spouses, minor children, or parents of the sponsor. The United States does not limit the number of immediate relative visas available each year.
  • Family preference visa: These visas apply to cousins, siblings, and married or adult children. The United States limits the number of family preference visas available each year.

Family-based immigration processes can be complicated, especially for those seeking family preference visas. The United States only issues a certain number of these visas yearly, so it’s important to work with an immigration attorney to give your case the best possible chance of success.

Can I Sponsor an Immigrant That Is a Non-Family Member?

Technically, yes. While you cannot directly sponsor a non-family member, you can co-sponsor their immigration petition with their family. As long as you meet the income requirement, you can provide financial support for an immigrant friend. You can do this by filling out and submitting a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This is basically a contract that pledges your financial support to the immigrant, reassuring the government that they won’t become a public charge.

Which Immigrants Do Not Require a Sponsor?

Importantly, many immigrants do not require sponsorship to immigrate to the United States. The following categories of immigrants do not need a sponsor to file a Form I-864 on their behalf.

  • Refugees and asylum seekers (Principal asylees or refugees may be required to file Form I-730 on behalf of their family members.)
  • VAWA self-petitioners
  • Survivors of serious crimes, like trafficking
  • Certain special immigrant juveniles
  • Other specific categories, including:
    • Nicaraguan Adjustment or Cuban American Relief Act applicants
    • Polish, Hungarian, and Indochinese parolee applicants
    • Cuban Adjustment Act or Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act applicants
    • Registry applicants who have lived in the U.S. since before 1972
    • Others who want to immigrate for humanitarian reasons

What Is Your Liability as an Immigration Sponsor?

Before you file an affidavit of support, you must understand the liability that comes with sponsorship. Both primary sponsors and joint sponsors share the same liabilities under an affidavit of support. If a joint sponsor signs the affidavit, then fails to provide financial support, the sponsored immigrant can sue for that support.

Form I-864 is a legally binding contract between the immigrant, the sponsor, and the United States government. The main responsibility of the sponsor is to fulfill financial support requirements. Failure to do so may result in a lawsuit or in expensive fines from USCIS.

How Long Is a Sponsor Responsible for an Immigrant?

Once you officially sponsor an immigrant friend or family member, your liability for that person continues for a long time. Only under the following circ*mstances will your liability end.

  • Sponsored immigrant becomes a United States citizen
  • Until the lawful permanent resident acquires 40 quarters of work credits, which typically takes 10 years. These quarters are credited toward Social Security.
  • Sponsored immigrant terminates the Form I-864 support obligations
  • When the sponsored immigrant no longer has a green card and leaves the United States
  • If the sponsored immigrant dies or is subject to deportation proceedings

Contact the Phoenix Immigration Attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group Today

Becoming a financial sponsor for friends or family members in their immigration petitions could be the difference between approval and denial of those petitions. If you want to sponsor an immigrant, but you’re not sure how to begin, the team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group can help. We have supported countless immigrants and their families and friends through the process of immigration. With considerable experience in this area of immigration law, we know exactly what it takes to give your case the best possible chance of success. To learn more about how you can sponsor an immigrant, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.

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How to Sponsor an Immigrant in 2023 | AZ Immigration Attorney (2024)


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