The Role of a Co-Sponsor in Family Immigration: A Comprehensive Guide

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Introduction to Co-Sponsorship in Family Immigration

When it comes to family-based immigration, one of the main worries of the U.S. government is whether the immigrant will have enough money to live in the country on their own without assistance from the government.

Joint sponsorship is one way to ensure the immigrant will have sufficient financial support to live in the U.S. However, the process can be overwhelming and complex. A joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement and must be at least 18 years old. Joint sponsors must also submit documents to prove that they meet the income requirement and are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

If you’re looking for more information about sponsorship in immigration, you’ve come to the right place. Knowing the legal aspects of co-sponsorship can help save time and avoid any legal complications.

Understand co-sponsorship, its criteria, and the application process in this article. Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, is here to provide reliable legal support and guidance.

Understanding the Concept of Co-Sponsorship

A joint sponsor, sometimes referred to as a co-sponsor, is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States who accepts joint liability to provide financial support or sponsor a family member for a green card if the primary sponsor’s income is insufficient.

When a permanent resident or citizen files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor an eligible family member for permanent residency, he must also file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This document shows the required financial resources to support the intending immigrant. However, there are instances when the primary sponsor cannot meet the required financial resources or minimum annual income.

A common solution to this problem is co-sponsorship. It usually entails the primary sponsor locating a relative, friend, or other interested party who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident willing and able to provide adequate financial support for the sponsored immigrant.

Together with the primary sponsor, a co-sponsor must fulfill specific requirements and submit Form I-864 to USCIS. The co-sponsor has the same legal and financial obligation to support the sponsored immigrant.

When Is a Co-Sponsor Necessary?

Here are some instances when a co-sponsor is necessary.

  1. The primary sponsor or the petitioner lacks the financial requirements to sponsor a family member seeking a green card.
  2. The primary sponsor currently meets the minimum annual requirement but did not meet the requirements the year before.

Lack of sufficient funds may cause the petition to be denied when trying to sponsor a family member for a Green Card; however, if the immigrant is co-sponsored, the petition may be approved since both sponsors have agreed to financially support the new immigrant’s living expenses. They now share a joint liability in ensuring the immigrant’s living needs are met.

Federal Income Requirements for Joint Sponsors

The immigrant must establish that they have adequate financial support in the U.S. The joint sponsor’s income must be at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.

An immigrant cannot have more than two joint sponsors. A second eligible joint sponsor may sponsor the remaining family members if the first joint sponsor only completes Form I-864 for a portion of the intending immigrant’s family.

The joint sponsor may use the income and assets of their household members, such as parents, siblings, or adult children. The relatives must reside in the joint sponsor’s house to qualify as a household member. They must have lived with the sponsor for the past six months or be listed as dependents on the sponsor’s most recent federal income tax return.

Each household member and dependent must complete Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, which will be attached to the joint sponsor’s Form I-864.

Legal Obligations and Responsibilities of Joint Sponsors

A Green Card joint sponsor’s obligations include:

  1. Earning not less than 125% of the minimum yearly income as specified by the federal poverty guidelines
  2. Ensuring that the sponsored immigrant has sufficient money to live
  3. Ensuring that the sponsored immigrant does not depend on public welfare financial assistance
  4. Paying back government agencies when the sponsored immigrant receives public welfare and
  5. Notifying the USCIS when they move to a new address

Eligibility Criteria for Co-Sponsors

A family member, friend, or other third party may serve as a co-sponsor of the immigrant if they:

  • Meet all other requirements for co-sponsoring an immigrant

  • Are a U.S. citizen or have a permanent resident status, and

  • Are at least eighteen years old

The financial requirements to becoming a joint sponsor based on the number of household members are:

  • A minimum yearly income of $21,775 for a 1-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $24,650 for a 2-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $31,075 for a 3-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $37,500 for a 4-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $43,925 for a 5-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $50,350 for a 6-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $56,775 for a 7-person household

  • A minimum yearly income of $63,200 for an 8-person household

The experienced immigration lawyers at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorney at Law, could help you determine your eligibility as a joint sponsor and guide you through the filing process.

The Co-Sponsorship Application Process

Aside from meeting the minimum income requirements, a financial co-sponsor must accomplish and submit the following:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status

  • Most recent federal income tax return or the IRS tax return transcript.

  • Forms W-2, 1099, and K-1

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

  • Proof of employment, if employed

  • Recent salary statements of the joint sponsor, if employed

The documents and completed forms must be submitted to the National Visa Center for review.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Here are some common mistakes that people make when completing Form I-864:

  1. Entering what was paid in taxes last year instead of the current anticipated income
  2. Putting a different amount in the total income field than the one reported on the tax return
  3. Incorrect household size calculations
  4. Including insignificant assets. Assets must generally be five times the shortfall income unless a spouse or minor child of a U.S. citizen is sponsored

Hire an immigration lawyer to avoid costly mistakes during the joint sponsorship application process.

Legal Obligations of a Co-Sponsor

A signed Affidavit of Support acknowledges financial support for a family member applying for a green card. It is a legal commitment and a binding contract between the U.S. government and the financial sponsor.

It gives the government the right to recover public welfare benefits from the sponsor, such as supplemental security income and temporary assistance for needy families.

The joint sponsor’s obligation only ends in the following events:

  • The sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen

  • The sponsored immigrant has worked in the U.S. for ten years.

  • The sponsored immigrant has abandoned his permanent residency.

  • The sponsored immigrant dies.

  • The joint sponsor dies.

In case the joint sponsor’s responsibilities are not met, the following could happen:

  • The immigrant may sue the joint sponsor if he fails to meet his financial responsibility.

  • The joint sponsor could be sued by the federal or local government agency that paid benefits to the immigrant.

  • The joint sponsor could be fined if he did not give notice of his change of address.

Note that even if the sponsor withdraws financial support, the immigration status of the immigrant will not be affected.

Seek the Assistance of an Experienced and Reputable Immigration Lawyer

Sometimes, the journey to fulfill one’s dreams of immigrating to the United States takes more than the applicant’s work. The idea of co-sponsorship, which entails a joint financial commitment, can be extremely helpful in assisting applicants to meet the strict financial standards established by immigration authorities. A joint financial sponsor can help the primary sponsor meet the financial and income requirements needed to support a future green card holder.

Legal representation and guidance may be able to help avoid costly mistakes during the immigration application. At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we help clients with various immigration concerns, such as family-based petitions and adjustment of status.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation!