If you intend to act as financial support to your immigrant family member(s), you need to file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. However, it can happen that your total income doesn’t meet up with the minimum income requirement stipulated in the INA.

In that case, you may enlist a joint sponsor’s additional support to assist you in meeting up. A petitioning sponsor usually only needs a second sponsor when they and their household don’t have sufficient financial resources.

The requirements for a joint sponsor I-864 are almost the same as those for the primary sponsor. The only difference is that the joint sponsor doesn’t have to be related to the intending immigrant, while the primary sponsor does.

If you’re considering obtaining the additional affidavit of support of another sponsor, this article contains valuable information you’d like to know. Meanwhile, we recommend hiring an experienced immigration attorney at any good law firm to assist with the process.

What Is a Joint Sponsor for Form I-864 Affidavit of Support?

A joint sponsor files a separate form I-864 Affidavit of Support, alongside the primary sponsor when the latter’s finances are insufficient. A joint sponsor is also called a financial co-sponsor; they can be a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen. Such individuals agree to accept legal responsibility for rendering financial support to a family-based green card applicant and are expected to reduce the same into an affidavit of support.

A primary sponsor has the option of enlisting the help of another sponsor to assist him or her. They especially need the support when their and their household’s income doesn’t meet up with the minimum financial requirements for a family-based green card after the federal income tax return has been calculated.

Does a Joint Sponsor Need to Pay An Affidavit of Support Fee?

Neither the added sponsor nor the primary sponsor needs to pay form I-864 Affidavit of support legal fees. The people who need to pay an affidavit of support fee include the immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen, including their spouses, parents, and unmarried children below 21. Also, family-based preference immigrants such as the siblings, married or unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well as employment based preference immigrants.

Moreover, only one form I-864 Affidavit of Support (AOS) fee is charged per immigration case, and it is paid by the intending immigrant. Nevertheless, while the primary sponsor of the immigrant can pay it on their behalf, the joint sponsor doesn’t have to pay any fee.

What Is the Difference Between the Main Sponsor and an Additional Sponsor?

A sponsor, main sponsor, or petitioning sponsor is the individual petitioning the intending immigrant’s visa petition. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services require the petitioner to submit Form I-864 whether or not they have an income. Such a person is said to have significant ownership interest and many times is always a family member. A petitioning sponsor is expected to understand the details of the immigrant visa petition , the household income, and know what a form I-864 affidavit of support entails.

On the other hand, the joint sponsor or additional sponsor is an individual enlisted by the main sponsor for additional support. The main difference between both is that while the sponsor must be related to the intending immigrant, the joint sponsor doesn’t have to be.

What Does Joint Sponsor Mean?

Joint sponsor means additional support for the main sponsor of an intending immigrant. The joint sponsor doesn’t have to be related to the main sponsor or the intending immigrant. However, he or she must be a lawful permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or U.S. national at least eighteen years old.

They must also have at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines and be domiciled in the U.S., its territories, or possessions. A joint sponsor is bound by contract like the main sponsor to provide financial support to the intending immigrant. Breaking the contract can attract legal actions such as a government agency suing them for not reimbursing loaned government assistance.

Does the Co-Sponsor Have the Same Liability As the Primary Sponsor?

The co-sponsor (another name for a sponsor who is not the main one) has the same liability as the main sponsor under form I-864 Affidavit of Support for family members. Provided the joint sponsor has signed Form I-864 for family members, they are bound by the “joint and several” liability on the contract. That means the sponsored immigrant can sue the additional sponsor in a state or federal court if they fail to provide the promised financial support.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Affidavit of Support Form I-864 is a binding legal contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government. The contract essentially safeguards government resources, preventing the foreign national or immigrant from depending on public welfare programs (i.e. public charge).

Can a Joint Sponsor Be Sued?

The binding nature of the contract a joint sponsor signed makes it such that they can be sued in a state or federal court. Apart from the form being a binding contract, the Immigration and Nationality Act creates a cause of action.

The cause of action empowers the green card holder or even the intending immigrant to enforce the contract. The USCIS Affidavit of Support is most often enforced in a federal court, but a state court has the power to hear the claims.

What If the Additional Sponsor Is Married?

The case is easier for married joint sponsors who have permanent residence because they can also combine their income with their spouse’s. Like the main sponsor, the joint sponsor’s spouse will be his or her household member. If the additional sponsor is using his or her spouse’s income, they’ll submit an additional Form I-864A with the spouse’s information.

The Form I-864, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, is a different form filed separately. The joint sponsor’s household member uses the form to promise to assist with their spouse’s financial responsibility. That means he or she is also financially supporting the sponsored immigrant with his or her income or assets – or both.

Where Can a Joint Sponsor Get the USCIS Form I-864?

The joint sponsor can get the Affidavit of Support form on the Immigration Services’ official website, like the main sponsor. You’ll need the recent version of Adobe Reader to download and access the form; the older version may give you an error message.

Once the joint sponsor has downloaded the appropriate Affidavit of Support form, he or she must complete and sign it. The National Visa Center, NVC, will reject every incomplete form as well as those with missing pages.

After downloading and completing the form, the joint sponsor will submit the form to the main sponsor and petitioner. The petitioner and major financial sponsor can then sign and submit to NVC in CEAC. The petitioner will submit the completed forms and supporting documents, including the immigrant visa applicant’s civil documents.

What Constitutes a Joint Sponsor’s Household Size?

When filling out the joint sponsor form, Form I-864A, you’ll be required to fill in your household size. When calculating a sponsor’s household income size, you need to include the following:

  • Your spouse, biological or adopted children living with the sponsor, and whoever is dependent on the sponsor’s federal income tax return,
  • The intending immigrant or principal visa applicant and any derivative applicants intending to immigrate within six months,
  • Anyone the sponsor is supporting in the United States on a different Form I-864 – unless the obligation has terminated, and
  • Nondependent parents, siblings, or adult children living with the sponsor that complete a Form I-864A – even if they are not dependents.

In What Instances Is a Joint Sponsor Needed?

Apart from insufficient annual income or assets, there are other instances where the main sponsor may need additional financial support. They’re needed when the sponsor’s income for the most recent tax filing year meets the financial requirement, but that for the previous year doesn’t.

Also, a joint sponsor is needed when the primary sponsor qualifies with non-U.S. income. In this case, the main sponsor’s income is reflected as a negative or loss on their IRS Form 1040.

What Obligations Is a Joint Sponsor Expected to Fulfill?

A joint sponsor shares the financial responsibility with the sponsoring petitioner for the marriage-based green card application equally. All of these responsibilities are always contained in the joint sponsor’s form. That means the joint sponsor must maintain a 125% minimum annual income requirement of the Federal Poverty Guidelines until their obligation ends. Also, they are equally responsible for reimbursing the government if the immigrant uses any public benefit.

With a financial co-sponsor, an immigrant can avoid becoming a public charge – that is, depending on government assistance (welfare). Furthermore, the immigration services expects the joint sponsor to update their address, notifying the government agency every time they move.

How Long Do a Joint Sponsor’s Duties Last?

The joint sponsor’s obligations end when the marriage-based green card holder becomes a U.S. citizen or has worked ten years (40 quarters) in the U.S. Their obligations also end when the immigrant or intending green card holder has gone through “abandonment of permanent residence” – that is, they’ve left the country. However, their responsibilities subsists when the applicant is still in active duty trying to get the process completed.

Also, the joint sponsor’s responsibilities terminate when the beneficiary is deceased or approved for a new green card after being placed in deportation proceedings. If it is established that the joint sponsor died, their obligations are terminated and their cash value lapses; a substitute sponsor or second joint sponsor may be enlisted from the household members. Meanwhile, if they owe any debt, the joint sponsor’s estate may be asked to pay it.

What If the Joint Sponsor Fails to Fulfill Their Obligations?

If the joint sponsor breaks the contractual agreement, they may face a lawsuit. The marriage green card holder, government, or even the major sponsor can file a lawsuit to collect what is owed. If the co-sponsor fails to reimburse the government for the immigrant’s use of public benefits, the agency may sue them. Finally, if the sponsor fails to notify the USCIS of any change in address, they may be fined up to $5,000.

Can You Be a Joint Sponsor?

You can become a joint sponsor if you’re a U.S. citizen or green card holder and are at least eighteen years old. You must also be domiciled in the United States, territory, or possession, but must not live with the beneficiary’s household.

Also, you must fulfill the requirement for the Federal Poverty Line for your household size and location. Finally, you must be willing to accept joint liability with the main sponsor to financially support the immigrant spouse seeking a green card.

How Many Joint Sponsors Can an Intending Immigrant Have?

An alien individual seeking a green card may get up to two joint sponsors, making it three financial sponsors in total. However, it is rare that one green card applicant needs more than one joint sponsor. The only instance where a second qualifying joint sponsor is needed is when there are multiple individuals on the application.

For instance, in cases where the immigrant spouse is bringing their children, which will require a higher minimum annual income. Then, the second co-sponsor would sign the I-864 legally binding contract to support the applicants the other sponsors couldn’t.

Contact Richard Herman Today!

Regardless of what type of sponsor you are, eligibility and appropriate documentation is key. Richard Herman is the most experienced immigration attorney in the United States that has helped many with their green card application process. To get in touch with him, you will need to schedule a consultation that can be held via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, or Google Meet.

You can schedule that consultation today by calling +1-800-808-4013 or booking online.

Conclusion

Sometimes, an individual seeking lawful permanent resident status or green card holder status needs an additional sponsor to obtain their green card. The joint sponsor takes up financial support responsibilities to assist the primary sponsor, also the petitioner.

The qualifying joint sponsor downloads a separate Form I-864A, fills it out, and submits with the required supporting documentation. The essence of the first joint sponsor (and second, if applicable) is to ensure there is sufficient income to support intending immigrants.

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