Visa Sponsorship FAQ

Visa Sponsorship FAQ

Sponsoring someone for a green card is a big decision so be sure you understand the legal responsibilities and requirements by reviewing the frequently asked questions below. Of course, we are always available to answer your questions in a free consultation if you have more questions.

What is visa sponsorship?

Visa sponsorship is when a company or person from a country supports the application for a visa for that country. The visa sponsor is either an employer or a close family member. For the purposes of this post, we are focusing on family member sponsors.

How long do you have to sponsor an immigrant?

The sponsor's responsibility lasts until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has earned 40 work quarters credited toward Social Security (a work quarter is about three months, so this means about ten years of work), dies, or permanently leaves the United States.

Are there income requirements to sponsor an immigrant?

Your assets and income must be at least 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines in order to show that you can maintain the applying immigrant as well as any other members of your household. For the latest table showing the required income amounts for different household sizes, see USCIS Form I-864P.

In order for your family member to succeed in obtaining a green card, the person will need to prove (among other things) that he or she is not “inadmissible.” One of the grounds of inadmissibility found in the U.S. immigration laws is that the person is likely to become a “public charge.” (See Immigration and Nationality Act, or I.N.A., Section 212.) A public charge is someone who receives U.S. government assistance based on financial need.

As the petitioner and financial sponsor, you will not only need to show that your income and assets are high enough to avoid the immigrant becoming a public charge, but you’ll have to promise to pay the government back if the immigrant ends up claiming certain types of public assistance benefits.

Can you sponsor someone if you yourself have a green card?

Yes. You can petition to bring family members to the United States (often called "sponsoring" them) only if you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder). Even then, you can bring in only those family members listed on the chart below.

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What are the obligations and responsibilities of the sponsor?

The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract, meaning that either the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide adequate support to the immigrant. In fact, the law places more obligations on the sponsor than on the immigrant -- the immigrant could decide to quit a job and sue the sponsor for support.

When the government sues the sponsor, it can collect enough money to reimburse any public agencies that have given public benefits to the immigrant. When the immigrant sues, he or she can collect enough money to bring his or her income up to 125% of the amount listed in the U.S. government’s Poverty Guidelines.

Can a sponsor revoke sponsorship?

Once the financial sponsor files the appropriate sponsorship paperwork with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, the financial sponsor is expected to provide support for the immigrant, and the duty to provide support can be terminated only under very limited circumstances.

Once the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service has approved the application for citizenship, the sponsor cannot revoke the affidavit, but the sponsor can withdraw the application before the immigrant arrives on U.S. soil or before the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service has approved the application for permanent residency. Only an immediate family member of the applicant can withdraw the petition for family-sponsored petitions and only if the family member made the request in writing and filed it with an officer of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service. This agency has the authority to grant or deny petitions.

Can you joint-sponsor an immigrant?

Yes. A joint sponsor may be asked to cosign Form I-864 because the main sponsor does not earn enough to support the immigrant alone. This decision should not be lightly as the joint sponsor is equally legally-bound by Form I-864.

If you have questions about sponsoring someone for a green card, we are happy to assist you. Click below to book your free consultation at any one of our eight office locations in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.