What Does "Sponsoring an Alien" Mean?

Under the grounds of inadmissibility, aliens who are likely to be a public charge upon entry (i.e., will likely end up on welfare) are inadmissible.  To gain entry into the United States, the aliens must show that someone will support them financially.  This person is called a sponsor.  The sponsor must show the he can financially support the alien by filing an Affidavit of Support.

What are the Requirements to File an Affidavit of Support?

There are many requirements that you must fulfill if you wish to be an alien's sponsor.  You must: 

  • Be the alien's sponsor if you filed an immigrant visa petition for your relative
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States
  • Have a residence and actually live in the U.S
  • Have a household income equal to or greater than 125% of the poverty level for your household size (including the alien you're sponsoring)

Filing an Affidavit of Support

There are several steps in filing an affidavit of support: 

  • You must fill out an I-864 Affidavit of Support when your relative has been scheduled for a visa interview.  There are instructions and a checklist for the documents you must provide in the forms.
  • You must provide your federal income tax returns for the 3 most recent years and proof of current employment.
  • After completing the affidavit, compiling the documentation, and having the affidavit notarized, you should then present this information to your relative for use in visa or adjustment of status proceedings.
  • By signing an affidavit of support, you are accepting legal responsibility for financially supporting your relative until they obtain citizenship or can be credited with 40 quarters of work.
  • If the immigrant receives certain public benefits (e.g., Food Stamps, Medicaid) you are responsible for repaying the costs to the agency that provided them.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Sponsor an Alien?

Filing an affidavit of support can be very confusing and difficult.  An experienced immigration lawyer can help you complete the paperwork quickly and correctly.