Filling out I-863, affidavit of support, is almost always a necessity if you’re sponsoring someone for a family-based green card. You will file Form I-864, which is published by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If you don’t have enough money to sponsor the individual alone, you can sign for a friend or relative as a joint sponsor. The main sponsor is the person bringing the foreign national, while the joint sponsor is the one assisting in financially supporting the immigrant.

The joint sponsor’s liability is the same as the primary sponsor’s under the immigration law regarding the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. What that means is that once the joint sponsor signs the form, he or she agrees to the contract’s “joint and several” liability.

It also means that the sponsored immigrant can sue for financial support if the co-sponsor fails to fulfill their responsibility. If you’re sponsoring someone for a lawful resident permanent card, we recommend hiring an experienced immigration attorney from a good law firm.

What Is the Liability for an I-864 Affidavit of Support?

The form I-864 affidavit of support, published and regulated by the USCIS, is a legally enforceable contract where sponsors, primary and joint, must fulfill the agreement. The sponsor’s responsibility to the immigrant spouse lasts until either of them becomes a U.S. citizen.

It also continues until the lawful resident gets credited with forty quarters of work, which is usually ten years. The essence of the I-864 is to ensure the sponsor(s) provide adequate support to the immigrant to avoid them becoming a public charge.

What Is a Sponsor Liable For?

The sponsor who signs Form I-864 is legally bound by contract to provide financial support for the immigrant family member. This contract is between the United States government agency and the sponsor, including the main and secondary sponsor(s).

By signing the contract, the sponsor agrees to have the sufficient income required to take care of the immigrant. More specifically, the sponsor guarantees his or her income is at or more than 125% of the poverty line.

How Long Is a Sponsor Liable for a Person?

A sponsor is liable for an immigrant family member until they earn forty work quarters credited toward Social Security. Also, they remain liable until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen or terminates the Form I-864 financial obligation.

Additionally, the sponsor is liable until the sponsored immigrant is no longer a green card holder and has departed the U.S. Finally, the liability continues unless the immigrant dies or after being placed in deportation proceedings reapplies under a new affidavit.

What Disqualifies You from Sponsoring an Immigrant?

An individual is disqualified from sponsoring an immigrant if they are involved in crimes such as an offense involving kidnapping. Other crimes include crimes involving false imprisonment, solicitation to carry out sexual conduct, and using minors in a sexual performance.

Others include solicitation to practice prostitution, video voyeurism, possessing, producing, or distributing child pornography, or any conduct that, by nature, is a sex offence against minors. These crimes also hold in foreign convictions, unless the defendant did not receive a fair trial.

Who Can Sponsor an Immigrant Financially?

The main and additional financial sponsors of an immigrant must meet three requirements to qualify. First off, they must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or national, and they must be at least eighteen years old.

Additionally, they must reside in the United States or its territory or possession and must be doing well financially. However, if the sponsor’s income doesn’t meet the Poverty Guidelines demand, he or she can look for additional sponsors to help share the financial responsibilities.

Is the Primary Sponsor Liable to the Immigrant?

The primary sponsor is the one who initiated the immigration process and is usually the immigrant’s spouse; they are liable to the immigrant. However, joint sponsors are often needed because the main sponsor couldn’t meet up with the poverty guidelines income requirement.

Hence, most sponsors (joint) are always financially superior to the main sponsor, explaining why they are often the main target for collection. Under federal law, the beneficiary of the sponsor can choose to sue only the primary sponsor, only the joint sponsor, or both.

Does Denial of I-751 End the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support Obligations?

If the sponsored immigrant’s I-751 application to change status of green card gets denied, she still qualifies for financial support, thus the obligations continue. However, in this situation, she will face an immigration judge who will decide whether to put her in removal proceedings or not.

Until the process is over and she departs, she still has the right to sue the sponsor for compliance. Additionally, the immigrant will likely get a second chance to convince the immigration judge to let her keep her green card.

What Obligations Isn’t the Sponsor Liable to Fulfill?

There are certain obligations that the United States government does not consider as means-tested benefits obligating the sponsor to repay. These include emergency Medicaid, school lunches, job training programs, student assistance for higher learning, and immunizations and treatment for communicable diseases.

Additionally, the government does not consider some kinds of adoption or foster care assistance, head start, and short-term non-cash emergency relief. The federal mean-tested public benefits include food stamps, Supplemental Security Income, State Child Insurance Program, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

When Is a Substitute Sponsor Needed?

The need for a substitute sponsor will typically arise if the primary sponsor or visa petitioner dies after the petition has been approved. That is provided that the USCIS decides to let the petition continue, in which case the substitute individual will need to file Form I-864.

The substitute sponsor must be related to the intended immigrant as their spouse, parent, parent-in-law, child, sibling, sister- or brother-in-law, grandparent, or financial sponsor. The substitute sponsor can also be the beneficiary’s legal guardian, aside from fulfilling all the main requirements the deceased main sponsor fulfilled. However, such a person must be a permanent resident who is entitled to all public benefits provided by the state.

What Is Required to File an Affidavit of Support?

The sponsor will complete Form I-864 when the intended immigrant has been scheduled for their immigrant visa interview with a consular office. The joint sponsor will also fill the form, if there are any, with other supporting documents required by the USCIS.

Additionally, the main sponsor will provide their US federal annual income tax return as proof of current employment, the new address of their permanent residence, household size and family members, and details of all public agencies they have worked with for the same source of income.

Generally, the sponsor will complete the affidavit of support form, compile the necessary documentation provided in the form, and have the affidavit notarized before a U.S. consular officer. Also, proof of residence abroad from either the government or its approved agencies and the required state or local taxes paid must be provided and contain the green card holder’s income.

Contact Herman Legal Group Today

Getting an immigration law firm that understands the nuances of form I-864 is key, and that is why your best bet is to contact Herman Legal Group. With several years of immigration practice and the unmatched experience of Richard Herman, you can be sure to get the best service here.

It starts with you scheduling a consultation which could be held via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, or in-office. You can schedule this consultation with Herman Legal Group by calling +1-216-696-6170, or by booking online.


A good attorney-client relationship is required for the joint sponsor’s process with the government; they’ll intimate you with the necessary information regarding any form you must fill, including the legal fees you’re to pay. They will also ensure that all confidential information relating to the form I-864 affidavit is followed in line with the poverty guideline. How much income a sponsor has is a major factor in filing the affidavit of support.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements and form of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Nationality Act before petitioning as an intending immigrant or a joint sponsor.

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