What is a Joint Sponsor and Do You Need One?
When you petition for a family member to obtain a green card, doing so comes with a commitment to their financial support for what may be a considerably lengthy period of time.
Sometimes, the main sponsor for the green card may not meet all the necessary financial requirements to sponsor someone for a green card. That doesn’t mean that they cannot sponsor someone, and they can’t get a green card. It means they may need a joint sponsor. This guide explains the roles of a financial sponsor, what a joint sponsor is and if you need a joint sponsor.
Why Does an Immigrant Need a Financial Sponsor?
In order for an immigrant family member to obtain a green card, they must prove that they are unlikely to become a public charge, when a person needs financial assistance from the U.S. government. To avoid this outcome, the government requires that the individual has a financial sponsor.
What Are the Requirements to Qualify as a Sponsor?
If you submitted an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your family member, you must be their financial sponsor.
For sponsorship, you’ll need to complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, when your family member is scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer abroad, or when your family member is about to submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS or an Immigration Court in the U.S.
In order to qualify as a financial sponsor, you must be:
- 18 years old
- A U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Living in the U.S., or in a territory or possession
- Earning a household income that’s equivalent to, or higher than, 125 percent of the poverty level in the U.S.—as it pertains to the state that you live in and the size of your household, which includes you, any relatives and dependents who live with you, and the immigrant who you’re sponsoring.
If you’re on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and the immigrant you’re sponsoring is your child or spouse, your income is only required to be equal to 100 percent of the U.S. poverty level for the size of your household.
Here is a preview of the 2022 Poverty Guidelines Calculator:
|Sponsor’s Household Size||100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines - 48 Contiguous States/DC/Puerto Rico/Guam/U.S. Virgin Islands||125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines- 48 Contiguous States/DC/Puerto Rico/Guam/U.S. Virgin Islands||100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines - Alaska||125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines - Alaska||100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines - Hawaii||125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines - Hawaii|
What Documentation and Evidence Are Required of a Sponsor?
- A copy of your federal income tax return, including your W-2, for the most recent tax year (or evidence that explains why you weren’t required to file)
- Pay stubs from the most recent six months
- A copy of Form 1099 for the most recent three tax years
- Any other evidence of your reported income or a letter from your employer (if you feel it’s needed to clarify any of your financial documentation)
- A copy of your birth certificate or your passport or Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship
- A copy of each side of your green card (for lawful permanent residents, LPRs)
This can seem like a lot. A skilled immigration attorney can help guide you through this tedious, and sometimes confusing, information-gathering process to make sure you’ve got all of the necessary documentation you need.
As a Sponsor, What if You Can’t Meet the Minimum Income Requirements?
If you’re unable to meet the minimum income requirements based on your earned income alone, you have the option to include the cash value of all of your assets. This can include money in savings accounts, stocks and bonds, and property. If you still are unable to meet the minimum income requirements or you do not wish to include the cash value of your assets, then you may need a joint sponsor.
What is a Joint Sponsor? Do You Need One?
If your household income and assets do not meet the minimum financial requirements to sustain the sponsorship of a would-be immigrant family member, you can get the help of a second sponsor—known as a joint sponsor.
A joint sponsor is an individual who intends to accept responsibility for the financial support of your family member along with you. The joint sponsor has to meet the same requirements as you—except that they don’t have to be related to the intending immigrant. A joint sponsor, or joint sponsor and their household, has to reach the 125 percent income requirement alone— not in combination with your income to try to satisfy the income requirement.
A joint sponsor will also need to complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, when your family member is scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer abroad, or when they’re about to submit Form I-485 with USCIS or an Immigration Court in the U.S.
Your Responsibilities as a Financial Sponsor
Once the immigrant gets their green card, you become their financial sponsor. As their sponsor your job is to provide any financial resources needed to prevent the immigrant from having to rely on U.S. government assistance. You are liable for paying the government back if they ultimately claim certain public assistance benefits.
How Long Does Your Financial Responsibility as a Sponsor Last?
Once you sign an affidavit of support, you become legally responsible for the financial support of your sponsored immigrant. Your responsibility may continue until the individual becomes a U.S. citizen or has completed 40 quarters of work—which typically spans a 10-year period. Your duty as a sponsor is terminated if you or the individual you sponsored die or if the sponsored individual is no longer a lawful permanent resident, and leaves the U.S.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Joint Sponsorship?
Talk with an attorney at Davis & Associates today, either as a sponsor or a candidate, for a free initial consultation to discuss your green card needs. Call 214-628-9888, or leave your information so one of the Davis & Associates professionals can phone you.