What is a joint sponsor for Form I-864?
A joint sponsor, in the context of Form I-864, is a person who is willing to take financial responsibility for an immigrant applying for a green card (lawful permanent resident status) in the United States. Form I-864, also known as the Affidavit of Support, is a required document for most family-based and some employment-based immigrants to demonstrate that they have adequate financial support and will not become a public charge (relying on government assistance) once they become a permanent resident.
When the primary sponsor (usually the petitioner or the person who filed the immigrant visa petition) does not meet the income requirements to sponsor the intending immigrant, a joint sponsor can step in to provide additional financial support. The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, at least 18 years of age, and domiciled in the United States.
By signing Form I-864 as a joint sponsor, this individual is legally obligated to maintain the intending immigrant’s financial support at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines until the intending immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, works for 40 quarters (about 10 years), loses their status, or dies. The joint sponsor’s income and assets are combined with the primary sponsor’s income and assets to meet the financial requirements.
Keep in mind that the joint sponsor must also meet the income requirements based on their household size and must provide supporting documentation to prove their financial capability. It’s a significant commitment, and anyone considering being a joint sponsor should understand the responsibilities and obligations associated with this role.
What are the joint sponsor minimum income requirements?
As of my last update in September 2021, the joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirements for Form I-864, which are based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The specific income threshold depends on the size of the joint sponsor’s household, including their own family members and any sponsored immigrants.
The minimum income requirement for a joint sponsor is generally 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. However, it’s important to note that this number can change each year, so it’s essential to check the latest guidelines when applying.
To give you an idea of the income requirements as of 2021, here are the minimum income figures based on household size:
- 1 person: $16,380
- 2 people: $22,110
- 3 people: $27,840
- 4 people: $33,570
- 5 people: $39,300
- 6 people: $45,030
- 7 people: $50,760
- 8 people: $56,490
For each additional person beyond 8, an additional $5,730 is added to the income requirement.
Again, it’s essential to check the most up-to-date Federal Poverty Guidelines and the official USCIS website for any changes or updates to the minimum income requirements before submitting Form I-864 with a joint sponsor. The income requirements may vary in the future, and you want to ensure that you meet the current standards.
What is the purpose of Form I-864?
Form I-864, officially titled the “Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA,” serves a crucial purpose in the U.S. immigration process. The primary purpose of Form I-864 is to establish that an intending immigrant has adequate financial support and will not become a public charge (reliant on government assistance) once they become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States.
The key purposes of Form I-864 are as follows:
- Financial Support: The form is used to demonstrate that the sponsoring individual (the petitioner or joint sponsor) has sufficient income or assets to support the intending immigrant at a level that is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This ensures that the immigrant will have the means to meet their basic needs and will not need government assistance.
- Legal Obligation: By signing Form I-864, the sponsor accepts legal responsibility for financially supporting the immigrant. The financial support obligation continues until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, works for 40 qualifying quarters (about 10 years), loses their status and leaves the U.S., or dies.
- Preventing Public Charge: The I-864 Affidavit of Support is part of the U.S. government’s efforts to ensure that immigrants have adequate financial support to prevent them from relying on public benefits. It helps protect the U.S. government and taxpayers from potentially bearing the financial burden of supporting immigrants who are not self-sufficient.
- Immigration Eligibility: Many family-based and some employment-based immigrants are required to submit Form I-864 along with their application for an immigrant visa (consular processing) or adjustment of status (if they are already in the U.S.) to demonstrate their eligibility for a green card.
Form I-864 is a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government. It is an essential document for family-based immigrants and certain employment-based immigrants to establish financial eligibility and ensure that they have a reliable source of financial support upon their arrival in the United States.
Who can become a joint sponsor for Form I-864?
A joint sponsor, as the term implies, is someone who is willing to provide additional financial support to the intending immigrant to meet the income requirements on Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. To be eligible to become a joint sponsor, the individual must meet the following criteria:
- S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency: The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States.
- Age: The joint sponsor must be at least 18 years old.
- Domiciled in the United States: The joint sponsor must be living in the United States and have a U.S. address.
- Meets Income Requirements: The joint sponsor must have an income level that meets the minimum income requirements, which are usually 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size, including their own family members and any sponsored immigrants.
- Relationship to the Sponsor and Immigrant: There is no specific relationship requirement between the joint sponsor and the petitioner (primary sponsor) or the intending immigrant. They can be friends, family members, or unrelated individuals, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
- Willingness to Assume Legal Responsibility: By becoming a joint sponsor, the individual is accepting legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant until certain conditions are met (e.g., the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, works for 40 qualifying quarters, leaves the U.S. and loses status, or dies).
It’s important to note that a joint sponsor is not required in every case. The primary sponsor (usually the petitioner) is expected to meet the income requirements to financially support the intending immigrant. However, if the primary sponsor’s income is insufficient, a joint sponsor can step in to help meet the financial obligations.
Additionally, in some cases, multiple joint sponsors may be used to combine their incomes to meet the income requirements. Each joint sponsor would need to meet the eligibility criteria individually.
Before agreeing to become a joint sponsor, individuals should carefully consider the responsibilities and obligations involved in this role, as it is a significant commitment with legal implications.