The Immigration Law Guide

Sponsoring an Immigrant

In this immigration law article we will explain what you should know about sponsoring an immigrant in the U.S. and when you should hire an immigration lawyer for guidance.

If you have people you care about living abroad who want to come to the U.S. permanently, you may be able to act as a sponsor to help them immigrate. Whether the person you want to sponsor is your fiancé or spouse, a family member, a potential employee, or a friend, there are certain eligibility criteria and requirements you must meet when sponsoring an immigrant.

How to Sponsor an Immigrant

To sponsor an immigrant, you must file an Affidavit of Support that contracts you to provide financial resources upon the immigrant being awarded permanent residence. But the process is not always simple. There are a number of steps and criteria that must be met before you can establish a sponsorship.

someone sponsoring an immigrant friend

What is an immigration sponsor?

An immigration sponsor is a person, group, or business entity that legally consents to financially support an immigrant during their stay in the U.S. As a sponsor, you must meet specific requirements and be financially secure.

In general, immigration sponsorships fall into the following categories:

What are the requirements for sponsoring an immigrant?

There are a number of criteria you must meet to qualify for sponsorship.

What are the requirements for sponsoring an immigrant?
To become an immigration sponsor, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Live in the U.S. or its territories and provide proof of residence
  • Meet the minimum income requirements
  • Fill out and file Form I-864 (also known as an Affidavit of Support)

If the immigrant you intend to sponsor is a family member, you can begin the process by filing a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) prior to applying for sponsorship.

Note that if you do not meet the relevant financial requirements, you still have the option to become a co-sponsor alongside another individual or group.

Pros and Cons of Sponsoring an Immigrant

Sponsoring an immigrant can be a life-changing and rewarding process; however, it comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. But what are the pros and cons of becoming an immigration sponsor?

What are the benefits?

As a sponsor, you’ll have the opportunity to help an individual maintain residence in the U.S. and allow them to benefit from public services. This can be especially valuable if the intended immigrant is a spouse or close relative, as it allows you to remain together within U.S. borders.

The Pros and Cons of Sponsoring an Immigrant

What are the risks and liabilities?

It is important to note that an Affidavit of Support is a legally binding contract, and therefore you commit to accepting all associated legal responsibilities until the immigrant:

  1. becomes a U.S. citizen
  2. earns 40 work quarters credited toward social security
  3. dies or permanently leaves the U.S.

This is one of the potential risks of sponsoring an immigrant that could have a serious impact on your legal and financial status. For example, if you sponsor your spouse, your contract and all associated financial liabilities will remain intact even after a divorce.

A common question potential sponsors have is “Does sponsoring an immigrant affect buying a house?” In general, an Affidavit of Support won’t impact your credit score, and therefore shouldn’t affect your ability to obtain a mortgage. However, it’s important to consider how the monetary risks may impact your overall financial situation.

Should you sponsor an immigrant?

Sponsoring an immigrant can be extremely rewarding, and life-changing for the person you decide to sponsor. Each and every immigration journey is unique, and depending on your circumstances, navigating the legal process and meeting the requirements can be intimidating and complicated.

If you have questions about how the process works or need legal advice, it’s a good idea to reach out to a qualified immigration lawyer to give yourself the best chance of your sponsorship being successful.