November 8th, 2010 by Eleanor Gaskin
If you are bringing your relative to live permanently in the US as a permanent green card holder, you are legally bound to accept responsibility for supporting the immigrating relative. To sponsor an immigrant relative, you must file an Affidavit of Support (Form I 864). The legally binding form will last until the intending relative becomes a US citizen or can be credited with forty quarters of work, which usually translates to 10 years.
For whom is an Affidavit of Support filed?
You must complete and submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support if you are sponsoring your close relative to come to the United States along with Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. In order to qualify for sponsorship by a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, immigrating relatives must fall in one of the following family preferences:
1.First Preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens (above 21 years of age)
2.Second Preference (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (under 21) of permanent residents
3.Second Preference (2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
4.Third Preferences: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children.
5.Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children.
You must be at least 18 years of age and a US citizen or a green card holder to sponsor in order to file an Affidavit of Support for an immigrating relative. You must also be a resident of the United States or any of its underlying territories. This means that you should live in the United States in order to qualify as the sponsor. You can still qualify if you provide ample proof that your residency outside the US is temporary in nature.
You also must meet the income requirement laid down by the USCIS. You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the US poverty level of your household size.
Filing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
You should complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, when your intending relative has been called for a visa interview with a consular officer overseas or when the sponsored relative is about to submit an application for adjustment of status with the USCIS in the United States. If you do not meet the income requirement, you a joint sponsor must also complete Form I-864 at the same time. If for any reasons the income of other household members is used, then each additional household member must complete Form I-864A, separately. Form I-864A is considered a contract between the sponsor and the household member.
Responsibilities of the Sponsor of an Alien Relative
When an Affidavit of Support is signed, you accept legal and financial responsibility for the sponsored alien relative until they become US citizens or until they can be credited for 40 quarters of work.
Any joint sponsor or household member, whose income in also used to meet the minimum income requirement, is also legally responsible for the immigrating alien relative.