July 13th, 2011 by Abby Keane
If you filed an immigrant visa petition for your relative, you should be the sponsor. You should also be at least 18 years old and a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. It is also important that you have a domicile in the United States or a territory or possession of the United States. It simply means you must actually live in the United States, or a territory or possession, in order to qualify as a sponsor. Even if you live abroad, you may still qualify as a sponsor if you can show that your residence abroad is temporary and that you still have your domicile in the United States.
The INA permits both a “joint sponsor” and a “substitute sponsor” in certain cases. If the visa petitioner’s household income is not adequate enough to meet the requirements of INA , a joint sponsor can sign an affidavit of support, in addition to the affidavit of support signed by the main visa petitioner. A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member along with you. A joint sponsor has to meet all the same requirements as you but the joint sponsor need not be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor (or the joint sponsor and his/her household) must reach the 125 percent income requirement. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.
There can be a substitute sponsor if:
the Service approved an immediate relative or family-based immigrant visa petition on behalf of an alien;
after the Service did so, the visa petitioner died; and
the Service has determined, in the exercise of discretion, that humanitarian factors make it prudent not to revoke approval of the visa petition.
A substitute sponsor will also be accepted if the visa petitioner dies after the principal beneficiary of the visa petition has immigrated, in the case of an alien spouse or child is seeking to follow to join the main beneficiary after the visa petitioner’s death.
To qualify as a substitute sponsor you must be a US citizen or national, or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, at least 18 years of age, and domiciled in the United States. In addition, you should be a qualifying relative, or the legal guardian, of the intending immigrant. The qualifying relatives include the intending immigrant’s spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sibling, child (if at least 18 years of age), son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild. As a substitute sponsor, you have the responsibility to sign and complete the affidavit of support in place of the deceased petitioner. You have to meet all of the same income requirements of a sponsor and you will also have all of the same responsibilities as a sponsor.
You should complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support when your relative has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer overseas OR when your relative is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident status with the USCIS or with an Immigration Court in the United States.
If you have a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must also file Form I-864 at this time. If you are using the income of other household members to qualify, then each household member who is accepting legal responsibility for supporting your relative must complete a separate Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.