The Immigration Law Guide
How to Sponsor an Immigrant Friend
In this article, we explain how to sponsor an immigrant friend in 3 steps including the eligibility requirements, the income requirements, and how to file an Affidavit of Support.
In most cases, immigrants who want to become a US citizen or permanent resident are sponsored by a spouse, employee, or relative. In the case of petitioning for a non-relative friend, the process is less straightforward and it’s important to understand your options. Keep reading to learn how to sponsor a friend’s visa application for permanent residency.
Can you sponsor a non-relative friend for a Green Card?
Unfortunately, you cannot petition for a foreign national’s visa or green card unless you are their family member or current or prospective employer. However, you can still help a friend. You can financially sponsor your friend’s immigration petition by filling out and filing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Under US law, every foreign national who immigrates via a family-based petition must have a financial sponsor. If your friend has a family member who is able to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative but can’t provide the financial support required by law, you can become a joint sponsor and agree to provide financial help.
3 Steps: How To Financially Sponsor an Immigrant Friend
While you can’t directly sponsor a non-relative friend, you still have the option to offer financial support and protection for an immigrant entering the US. Here’s what you need to do to become a joint financial sponsor for a friend.
1) Meet the eligibility requirements to become a financial sponsor.
As a joint financial sponsor for your friend’s visa application, you must meet all the relevant sponsorship requirements separately from their primary relative sponsor. According to the USCIS, a joint sponsor must:
- Be a US citizen or green-card holder
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Live in the US or its territories
- Meet or exceed the minimum income requirements
2) Satisfy the income requirements.
The USCIS imposes minimum income requirements, which you must meet or exceed in order to be a financial sponsor for a foreign national immigrating to the US. These requirements are in place to ensure that the immigrant doesn’t become a “public charge,” meaning reliant on government financial assistance.
In order to financially sponsor your friend, you’ll need to prove that your household income is at least 125% of the US poverty level according to guidelines provided by the USCIS in conjunction with the US Department of Health and Human Services.
3) File an Affidavit of Support
To file an Affidavit of Support, the primary petitioner (family member) and the financial sponsor (you) need to fill out Form I-864 and submit the completed form along with any additional supporting documentation to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Get in touch with an experienced immigration attorney.
If you want to sponsor an immigrant friend, it’s a good idea to have a firm grasp of the pros and cons and the liabilities associated with becoming an immigration sponsor.
An experienced immigration attorney with specialized knowledge regarding immigration law will be able to offer guidance and representation throughout the process to give you and your friend the best chance possible of being approved.