Immigration Lawyer Explains Affidavit of Support
An affidavit of support is a document that must be completed by all petitioners for family-based and some employment based sponsorship. In the affidavit of support, the petitioner or sponsor sign to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. Since the requirements are so stringent and an incorrect affidavit of support can lead to a denial of an immigrant visa petitions, it is recommended to seek legal assistance from an immigration lawyer.
According to immigration lawyer, Gail S. Seeram, the petitioner or person who filed the immigrant visa application is the “sponsor” for the affidavit of support and is required to complete an affidavit of support. The sponsor must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. The sponsor must have a domicile in the United States or a territory or possession of the United States. Usually, this requirement means the sponsor must actually live in the United States, or a territory or possession, in order to be a sponsor. If the sponsor lives abroad, the sponsor may still be eligible to be a sponsor if the sponsor can show that the sponsor’s residence abroad is temporary, and that the sponsor still has domicile in the United States. An immigration lawyer may have to assist the sponsor in providing proof of U.S. domicile to the Embassy officials.
In some cases, as immigration lawyer Gail S. Seeram explains, the sponsor does not have the income required by law and would have to get a joint sponsor to also complete an affidavit of support. A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting the beneficiary of the immigrant visa. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as the sponsor, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor must reach the 125% income requirement alone. The sponsor cannot combine the sponsor’s income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement. As explain by immigration lawyer, Gail S. Seeram, “if the I-864 completed by the sponsor does not meet the poverty guidelines, then the I-864 completed by the joint sponsor must be sufficient as a stand-alone petition and cannot be combined with the sponsor’s I-864.” Further, immigration lawyer Gail S. Seeram clarifies that the joint sponsor does not have to appear for an interview and is not orally questioned by any immigration officials.
When the sponsor signs the affidavit of support, the sponsor accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) generally until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. The sponsor’s obligation ends if the sponsor or the individual sponsored dies or if the individual sponsored ceases to be a permanent resident and departs the United States. Immigration lawyer Gail Seeram notes that a divorce does NOT end the sponsor’s obligation under a marriage-based affidavit of support.
The following individuals are required by law to submit an Affidavit of Support, completed by the petitioner to obtain an immigrant visa or adjustment of status:
1. All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (which include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21)
2. Relatives who qualify for immigration to the United States under one of the family based preferences such as: unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 years of age or older); spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried sons and daughters (regardless of age) of permanent residents and their unmarried children; married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children; and brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their unmarried minor children.
3. Employment based preference immigrants in cases only when a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative filed the immigrant visa petition, or such relative has a significant ownership interest (5% or more) in the entity that filed the petition.
According to immigration lawyer Gail S. Seeram, failure of a sponsor to submit an affidavit of support or to meet the income requirement would result in denial of visa issuance or denial of adjustment of status. If the sponsor changes his or her address after the affidavit of support is submitted, then the sponsor is required by law to notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 30 days by filing Form I-865, Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address. If the sponsor fail to notify the USCIS of the his/her change of address, the sponsor may be fined.
For more information on affidavits of support or any immigration matter, email Gail@GailLaw.com or call 1-877-GAIL-LAW or 407-292-7730.
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