For some immigrant visa categories, the person relocating to the U.S. must be petitioned by a “sponsor”, who is a person that will vouch for their presence as an immigrant in the country. In most cases, the sponsor is a family member of the immigrant, who will be traveling to the United States under a family-based visa.
Sponsors are required to provide an affidavit of support. This affidavit is a legal immigration document that states that the sponsor will be financially responsible for the relative who is permanently relocating to the United States. In cases where the original sponsor cannot meet the income requirements for being a sponsor, the immigration department will allow another person to act as joint sponsor with them.
Joint sponsors must meet the same basic requirements as the original sponsor. These include:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Must actively live in the U.S. or a U.S. territory, although people living abroad can still act as a sponsor if they are living abroad temporarily and their primary domicile is in the U.S.
- Income level must be equal to or greater than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for their household size
Unlike the original sponsor, joint sponsors do not actually need to be related to the immigrant. Joint sponsors may also be allowed in an adjustment of status application.
The most important issue to avoid when applying to be a joint sponsor is that of immigration fraud. If the joint sponsor misrepresents their income level, or any information regarding the other requirements, it could lead to serious legal consequences for them. The person being petitioned can also face legal consequences if they assist a sponsor in any type of immigration fraud. For instance, their visa application could be denied, or they might be denied entry into the country.
Also, the joint sponsor must meet the income requirement on their own. That is, the original sponsor and the joint sponsor cannot combine their income levels in order to meet the 125% requirement. Lastly, sponsors can sometimes be held liable for certain aspects of the immigrant’s status, such as if the immigrant ends up going on welfare.
Joint sponsorship is a serious role and must be taken serious. Joint sponsors carry great responsibility and must meet several requirements in order to assist a person in their immigration process. You may wish to hire an immigration lawyer in your area if you need assistance with joint sponsor applications. Your attorney can provide you with research to help ensure that all the requirements are met and the application is processed properly. Also, if you need to appear before an immigration judge or panel, your lawyer can provide legal representation during such processes.