How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor an Immigrant?
In this article, we detail the direct and indirect cost to sponsor an immigrant and the minimum income requirements of sponsoring an immigrant.
Some of the costs associated with petitioning for an immigrant’s green card are direct and easy to anticipate, such as filing fees imposed by USCIS. Other immigration sponsorship costs may be indirect and unique to your specific situation. Keep reading to learn how much it will cost to sponsor an immigrant.
Direct Costs of Sponsoring an Immigrant
These are the direct costs you should expect when sponsoring an immigrant:
- Filing fees for all necessary forms (check the filing costs with the USCIS fee calculator)
- Required medical exam fees if the person you’re sponsoring needs help covering the cost
- Immigrant visa processing fees and special services
Indirect Cost to Sponsor an Immigrant
The indirect cost to sponsor an immigrant may vary substantially depending on factors like the immigrant’s age, their current place of residence, and the applicant’s available financial assets.
Here are 6 potential indirect costs of sponsoring an immigrant:
- Travel expenses for to and from the US
- Fees associated with obtaining official birth-country government records
- Shipping costs associated with moving personal belongings
- Document translation fees
- The cost of any required vaccinations or case-specific testing
- Costs associated with financially supporting the immigrant upon their arrival in the US
When you sign and file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, you’re entering into a legally binding contract with the US federal government. Make sure you understand all of the financial and legal risks of sponsoring an immigrant before you file this form.
Who Can Sponsor an Immigrant?
Eligibility Requirements to Sponsor an Immigrant
To sponsor an immigrant, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a US citizen or lawful green-card holder
- Live in the US or one of its territories
- Meet the minimum income requirements (see below)
Minimum Income Requirement
To become a sponsor, you must meet the financial requirements laid out in the HSS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support, which are updated annually.
- An immigrant sponsor is generally required to maintain an income of at least 125% of the federal poverty line based upon household size.
- Active military personnel who are petitioning on behalf of a spouse or child must have an income of at least 100% of the poverty line.
These income requirements are in place to prevent the immigrant from becoming a “public charge.” This means you will be responsible for reimbursing the federal or state government for any public benefits utilized by the immigrant.
Talk to an experienced immigration lawyer
When you are ready to begin the process of sponsoring an immigrant, an experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine direct and indirect cost to sponsor an immigrant so that you have a clear understanding of your options.
Speaking with an attorney who specializes in immigration law prior to filing your petition will help you understand the pros and cons and the liabilities, determine the best next step for your specific case, and increase the chances of having your application approved.