The Immigration Law Guide
My Liabilities When Sponsoring an Immigrant
In this article, we will explain your liabilities when sponsoring an immigrant and when you should seek legal guidance from an immigration attorney.
You can help someone start a new life in the United States by sponsoring an immigrant. To assist a family member, fiancé or spouse, new employee, or someone else who wishes to immigrate to the U.S., you will need to sign and submit Form I-864 Affidavit of Support.
Form I-864 is published and regulated by the USCIS and is a legally binding contract. When you enter into this contract, you accept certain responsibilities and liabilities. It’s important to make sure you understand the legal implications of this form and are prepared to fulfill your agreement.
A Sponsor’s Liability Under I-864 Affidavit of Support
Immigration sponsorship is a wonderful opportunity to assist an individual on their journey to become a US citizen or permanent resident. However, it’s important to consider the very real and serious legal responsibilities that accompany the sponsorship process.
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. Specifically, you are guaranteeing that your income is at or above 125% of the federal poverty line.
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure sponsored immigrants have the financial support they need in order to prevent them from becoming what’s referred to in immigration law as a “public charge,” which means someone who is dependent on public welfare programs.
Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is legally enforceable, which means a sponsored immigrant can sue their sponsor for financial support in state or federal court.
For how long is a sponsor liable?
An Affidavit of Support is intended as a long-term contract, and therefore, the liabilities and responsibilities associated with sponsorship extend until the contract is fulfilled or broken.
A sponsor is liable for the intended immigrant until one of the following events occurs:
- The immigrant successfully becomes a U.S. citizen.
- The immigrant earns approximately ten years of credited work toward social security (40 quarters).
- The immigrant permanently leaves the U.S. or dies.
What is an immigration sponsor?
Immigration sponsorship allows an American citizen or green card holder to pledge financial support to an immigrant during their stay in the United States. An immigration sponsor can be an individual, a business entity, or a group of people.
In order to qualify to become a sponsor, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a US citizen or permanent resident
- Reside in the US or it’s territories
- Meet certain income requirements
When To Seek Legal Council from an Immigration Lawyer
By signing and submitting Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, you’re taking on the financial responsibility of supporting someone during their time in the US. Immigration law can be complicated and confusing to navigate on your own. Sponsoring an immigrant is a major long-term decision, and if you have any questions or concerns about your legal rights and responsibilities, it’s worth seeking the guidance of a qualified immigration lawyer.