The Immigration Law Guide
The Pros and Cons of Sponsoring an Immigrant
In this immigration law article we will explain the pros and cons of sponsoring an immigrant and important factors to consider.
If you have a family member, fiancé or spouse, or another person in your life who lives overseas but wishes to live permanently in the U.S., you can help them fulfill their dream by supporting them as an immigration sponsor.
The process involves entering a legally binding contract (Form I-864 Affidavit of Support) and agreeing to fulfill a variety of responsibilities. Sponsoring an immigrant comes with many long-term benefits for both you and the person who is immigrating. It also exposes you to some risks.
The Pros of Sponsoring an Immigrant
1) It’s personally rewarding
The process of sponsoring an immigrant can be life-changing for both the sponsor and the beneficiary. Whether you’re sponsoring a close friend or family member – or a complete stranger – you’re undoubtedly making a difference in their lives.
Immigration is a long and arduous process, and by helping an individual maintain residence in the U.S., you can rest easy knowing that you’re providing an immeasurable service to someone who truly needs it.
2) It brings people together.
If you’re sponsoring a family member or spouse, you know just how valuable it is to have the opportunity to be together. Many people coming to the U.S. are doing so because they have loved ones currently residing within its borders. Having the option to live near one’s support system throughout the process of obtaining citizenship is invaluable, and Form I-864 makes this possible.
3) It serves the public good.
Immigration is not just advantageous for the immigrant. It also benefits the host country in a variety of significant and fundamental ways. Immigrants living and working in the U.S. contribute to:
- The economy – Immigrants boost economic growth and output through their labor, skills, and ideas as well as their consumption of goods and services in the U.S.
- Cultural diversity – Immigrants contribute to the diversity of belief systems, values, practices, traditions, and norms in the U.S.
- Opportunities for others – Immigrants often contribute significantly to international trade and create new and unique employment and learning opportunities for both other immigrants as well as U.S.-born citizens.
By sponsoring an immigrant and taking on the responsibility of providing them with financial support, you’re also ensuring they will not become a public charge.
The Cons of Sponsoring an Immigrant
1) It’s a long-term obligation.
An Affidavit of Support is – at its core – a legally binding contract. Therefore, upon the acceptance of your petition, you will be contractually obligated to meet all of the relevant requirements and responsibilities until one of the following events occurs:
- The immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen.
- The immigrant earns 40 quarters of credited work (approximately 10 years).
- The immigrant dies or permanently leaves the U.S.
2) It can impact your financial situation.
Depending on 1) your income and existing assets and 2) how much monetary support the beneficiary requires, your financial situation may be impacted by becoming an immigration sponsor. You must meet certain income requirements in order to be eligible to sponsor someone, and you must commit to providing ongoing support.
It’s important to ensure your financial wellbeing is secure before you sign an Affidavit of Support in order to ensure you can meet your obligations without negatively impacting your ability to provide for yourself or other members of your family.
3) It comes with some risks and liabilities.
In addition to the standard legal and financial obligations associated with sponsorship, it’s important to consider the risks and liabilities. Form I-864 is legally enforceable, meaning that if you fail to meet your obligations as a sponsor, you can be rightfully sued by the beneficiary.
Additionally, withdrawing from a sponsorship is exceptionally difficult, and usually impossible unless you can prove that the petition was obtained fraudulently. For example, events such as divorce from your immigrant spouse or filing for bankruptcy will not absolve you of your contractual responsibilities.
When You Should Hire an Immigration Lawyer
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of sponsoring an immigrant or are in need of legal insight, it’s always a good idea to reach out to an experienced immigration lawyer to help you navigate the process.