January 21, 2008: Affidavit of Support and Joint Sponsor Issues

Affidavit of Support and Joint Sponsor Issues

I have a friend who wants to come to the US. He is Mexican and is married to an American citizen. She has not worked in two years because they cannot find jobs in Vera Cruz, Mexico where they live. I talked to an attorney and he told me the only recourse is to find a joint sponsor for my friend. We cannot find a sponsor. Is there anything else to be done?
— Russ

Generally, sponsors (in this case a family-based Petitioner) must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The Form I-864 is a contract between the sponsor and the United States government. By submitting this Form and the necessary supporting documentation, the sponsor is showing the government that s/he has adequate means to financially support the intending immigrant so that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge. All sponsors, including joint sponsors, must be at least 18 years of age and domiciled in the United States, or in its territories or possessions.

If a sponsor’s income alone is insufficient to meet 125% of the poverty guidelines for his or her household size, the sponsor can also use the value of his or her assets, the income of other household members, or the intending immigrant’s income and/or value of assets. If a household member is used to meet the minimum income level, the sponsor and household must both sign Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, along with evidence of the household member’s income. It is common for sponsors to use the value of their home to supplement their income to meet the minimum income requirement. The sponsor must submit a recent appraisal of the home along with documentation showing what is owed, such as recent mortgage statements. It is also common for sponsor to submit proof of other assets such as certain investment accounts or Certificates of Deposit that can be converted into cash within one year.

According to the I-864 instructions, “a joint sponsor can be any U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident who is at least 18 years old, domiciled in the United States, or its territories or possessions, and willing to be held jointly liable with the petitioner for the support of the intending immigrant. A joint sponsor does not have to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant.” The Form I-864 and its supplements contain many nuances that require in depth explanations. If you have specific questions about Form I-864 or any of its supplements, it would be wise for you to contact an experienced immigration attorney to discuss all of your possible options.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys