If you or someone you know has ever gone through the legal process of an immigration case, you know that there are a lot of moving parts involved that can become very complicated. Many forms will need to be completed to legally be allowed to enter or continue to reside in the United States. One of the necessary steps may include an affidavit of support.

An affidavit of support, also referred to as Form I-864, is a document that assigns the financial responsibility of the applicant to someone in their life. The person who signs the affidavit acts as the applicant’s sponsor. The document is required for someone who is looking to obtain a green card. Contact a skilled NYC family immigration lawyer to discuss your options.

Who Files an Affidavit of Support?

The applicant’s spouse is the most common sponsor for someone obtaining an affidavit of support. However, it does not necessarily have to be the spouse that bears the fiscal responsibility of the applicant. The qualifications for a sponsor are:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a United States citizen (or a lawful permanent resident)
  • Must have a residence within the United States
  • Must meet a minimum income requirement

If your sponsor does not meet the minimum income level, they can secure a joint sponsor willing to sign the affidavit or use a household member’s income. Any sponsor involved will have to submit a signed affidavit.

What Does a Financial Sponsor Do?

A sponsor is entering into a legally binding contract with the United States government, agreeing to support the applicant financially. This includes preventing the applicant from becoming a public charge. A public charge means any immigrant who becomes reliant on public benefits that are designated only for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. These benefits include TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families also known as welfare), SSI (Supplemental Security Income), state or local assistance, and Medicaid or similar long-term health care assistance. If needed, government agencies are within their rights to force the financial sponsor to repay public benefits used by the applicant.

The sponsor is responsible for the applicant’s finances until:

  • The applicant becomes a U.S. citizen
  • The applicant works 40 or more quarters in the U.S.
  • The applicant permanently moves out of the U.S.
  • The applicant or the sponsor dies

When Should You File an Affidavit of Support?

File an affidavit of support if you are trying to obtain a green card. If you are in the U.S. already, file the affidavit along with an Adjustment of Status Application, which is the green card application form. If you are not in the U.S. yet file your affidavit of support when scheduling your immigrant visa interview.