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Part 3 of 4: Financial Responsibility of Green Card Sponsors

**Please note: The purpose of this series is to provide general information on immigration tax issues commonly raised by our Canadian clients. Berardi Immigration Law does not practice U.S. tax law. Any information herein is for general informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. To ensure compliance with U.S. tax regulations, you should speak with your tax or financial adviser to assist you in all financial implications for your time spent in the U.S.**

Dear Berardi Immigration Law,

I am a U.S. citizen who filed an I-130 immigrant petition for my family member living abroad. It was approved, but now the National Visa Center says I do not meet the minimum income requirement and must complete a new Affidavit of Support. What does this mean? Can anyone else (like my parents or brother) be a financial sponsor? If so, when will their financial responsibility end?

Yours truly, Green Card Sponsor

An Affidavit of Support is a document that the sponsor signs to accept financial responsibility for the green card applicant when he/she comes to live in the U.S. In other words, the sponsor agrees to make his or her income and assets available for the support of the relative applying for permanent residence. The sponsor must prove that he or she can financially support the immigrant AND their own, current household members at 125% of the amounts shown in the U.S. Poverty Guidelines (or 100% if the sponsor is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces). These amounts are annually revised and can be found here.
If the sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirement, another person may complete a separate Affidavit of Support to become a “joint financial sponsor” of the green card applicant. A joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old, and living in the U.S. The joint sponsor must be willing to assume financial liability for the immigrant and meet all sponsorship requirements separately, including the minimum income requirements for his or her household.
An Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract. The sponsor’s financial responsibility lasts until the immigrant either:

  • becomes a U.S. citizen; or
  • can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually about 10 years).

The sponsor’s obligation ends upon his or her own death, or if the immigrant dies or ceases to be a permanent resident and departs the United States. Note that divorce does NOT end the sponsorship obligation. If the immigrant receives any “means-tested public benefits,” the sponsor may be held responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If the sponsor does not repay the debt, the agency can sue him or her in court for the money owed.
Read more about Affidavits of Support and contact Berardi Immigration Law for your family-based immigration matter today.