Previously on the blog, we have discussed the I-864 Affidavit of Support. This is a USCIS form, and contract, that needs to be filled out for an intending immigrant who needs a U.S.-based family sponsor in order to immigrate to the United States. Generally, if you are immigrating to the U.S. on any family-based petition (I-130), you will need a financial sponsor before you receive working authorization and can start generating income. This is meant to safeguard the immigrant in the United States from relying on government benefits and also having some sense of a sustainable lifestyle.

The I-864 really places more obligations on the actual sponsor than it does on the intending immigrant. This is because of the conditions under which the form is being signed by the U.S.-based sponsor (household member). When the sponsor agrees to sign their name and submit the I-864 with other supporting documents, they aren’t just agreeing to a sponsor for a period of 6 months.

Conditions of the Sponsorship

The conditions of being a financial sponsor don’t have any set dollar amount in terms of how much support you need to give your partner or family member monthly or annually. However, you, as the sponsor, need to demonstrate that you will maintain the 125 percent mark of the income level you declared when signing the I-864. In other words, you will need to maintain your job, residence, and other essentials so the non-citizen you are living with can be supported as they transition to working life.

In addition, if the immigrant who receives a work permit prior to their green card needs public assistance or has to file for some type of benefit, the financial sponsor is also obligated to reimburse the government for any assistance the immigrant claims for a period of time.[1 

When does Sponsorship End?

As mentioned earlier, sponsorship isn’t really a short-term deal. This means if you stop providing financial support for a beneficiary who you signed on an I-864 for, it could result in a possible lawsuit if the immigrant in question decides to go forth with hiring a lawyer to bring charges against the U.S. sponsor for failing to uphold their part in the contract.

However, generally, if one of the following conditions are met, the financial sponsorship is voided:

  • The immigrant has worked a total of 40 quarters in the U.S. or about 10 years (if the immigrant has been in the U.S. working prior to the contract, those work hours count toward the total as well)
  • The permanent resident abandons their status and leaves the U.S.

What about Divorce?

The major kicker for the I-864 contractual agreement is that even if the sponsor and the immigrant spouse get divorced (in the case of a marriage-based green card), the sponsor is still obligated to support their divorced partner, even if they are deciding to not work after the breakup. Thus there are definitely some risks entering into the I-864 contractual agreement, or for that matter becoming a joint sponsor. Make sure that you are certain about your decision before signing this contract with the U.S. government.