Form I-864: How Joint Sponsors Strengthen Your Path to Immigration

Who is a joint sponsor?

A joint sponsor, in the context of the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) for U.S. immigration, is an individual who agrees to financially support an intending immigrant in case the primary sponsor (petitioner) does not meet the required income threshold to sponsor the immigrant. The primary sponsor is typically the U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is petitioning for the immigrant’s immigration.

The Affidavit of Support is a legally binding contract that ensures the sponsored immigrant will not become a public charge and will have adequate financial support while residing in the United States. The primary sponsor, who is usually the petitioner or the person directly related to the immigrant, is responsible for demonstrating that they meet the income requirements to provide financial support.

However, if the primary sponsor’s income does not meet the minimum required threshold for the number of people they are sponsoring (including their own household), a joint sponsor can step in. The joint sponsor is usually a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is willing to assume financial responsibility for the immigrant. This means that the joint sponsor’s income and assets will be considered alongside the primary sponsor’s to meet the required financial criteria.

Joint sponsors need to meet the same eligibility criteria as primary sponsors, including being at least 18 years old, being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and having the means to financially support the immigrant without relying on means-tested government assistance.

In summary, a joint sponsor is a person who agrees to financially support an immigrant and signs the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) alongside the primary sponsor to ensure that the immigrant will have sufficient financial resources and will not rely on public assistance.

Joint sponsor eligibility

To be eligible to serve as a joint sponsor for the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) in the United States, an individual must meet certain criteria to ensure their ability to financially support the intending immigrant. Here are the key eligibility requirements for a joint sponsor:

  • Legal Status: The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
  • Age: The joint sponsor must be at least 18 years old.
  • Residence: The joint sponsor must reside in the United States. They cannot be living abroad.
  • Income: The joint sponsor must have an income that meets the minimum income requirement set by the U.S. government for the number of people they are sponsoring, including the intending immigrant and their own household members. The exact income threshold depends on the household size and is updated annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Financial Ability: The joint sponsor must demonstrate that they have the financial means to support the intending immigrant without relying on means-tested government assistance. This can include providing documentation of income, assets, and employment.
  • Obligations: The joint sponsor, like the primary sponsor, will be legally obligated to provide financial support to the intending immigrant and to reimburse any government agencies that provide means-tested public benefits to the immigrant.
  • Duration: The joint sponsor’s obligations typically continue until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, earns 40 quarters of work credit (equivalent to about 10 years of work), no longer requires the financial support, leaves the U.S. permanently, or dies.
  • Documentation: The joint sponsor will need to complete and sign Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, along with any required supporting documentation to prove their eligibility and financial capacity.

It’s important to note that both the primary sponsor and the joint sponsor are legally bound by the terms of the Affidavit of Support. They are responsible for ensuring that the intending immigrant does not become a public charge and has access to adequate financial support.

Before agreeing to serve as a joint sponsor, individuals should carefully consider their financial situation and the potential long-term commitment involved in providing financial support to the intending immigrant. Consulting with an immigration attorney or a financial advisor can provide valuable guidance in understanding the responsibilities and obligations associated with being a joint sponsor.

Joint sponsor checklist of required documents

When serving as a joint sponsor for the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) in the United States, you’ll need to provide a variety of documents to demonstrate your financial eligibility and ability to support the intending immigrant. Here’s a checklist of the required documents you’ll typically need to gather and submit:

  • Form I-864: Complete and sign the Affidavit of Support form. This is the primary document indicating your willingness to financially support the intending immigrant.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency:
    • For U.S. citizens: A copy of your U.S. passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate.
    • For permanent residents: A copy of your green card (both front and back sides).
  • Proof of Income:
    • Copies of your most recent federal tax returns (Form 1040) and any W-2 or 1099 forms.
    • If you were not required to file taxes, provide an explanation and alternative evidence of income.
    • If applicable, evidence of any other sources of income, such as pay stubs, letters of employment, or proof of retirement benefits.
  • Employment Verification:
    • A letter from your employer indicating your current job, position, salary, and length of employment. It should be on company letterhead and include contact information for verification.
  • Proof of Assets:
    • Documentation of any assets you own, such as bank statements, real estate holdings, stocks, bonds, or other valuable assets.
    • If using assets to meet the income requirement, provide evidence of the value of the assets and their liquidation potential.
  • Proof of Domicile or Residency:
    • Documents showing your U.S. residence, such as utility bills, lease agreements, mortgage documents, or property tax records.
  • Federal Tax Transcripts:
    • IRS tax transcripts for the most recent tax year. These can be requested from the IRS.
  • Proof of Family Size:
    • Documentation of your household size, including dependents listed on your tax return, marriage certificates, birth certificates, or adoption records.
  • Affidavit of Support Contract: This document outlines your legal obligations as a joint sponsor and your agreement to provide financial support to the intending immigrant.
  • Photocopies: Make photocopies of all the submitted documents for your own records.
  • Cover Letter: Consider including a cover letter summarizing the documents you’re submitting and explaining your relationship to the intending immigrant.
  • Personal Identification: A copy of a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID card.

Remember that specific cases may have unique requirements, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may request additional documents if needed. It’s recommended to review the most recent USCIS guidelines and instructions for Form I-864 before assembling and submitting your joint sponsor packet. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, consulting with an immigration attorney or a legal professional can provide valuable assistance.

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