AuthorTopic: Fight Trump's Xenophobic Agenda: Adopt An Alien Of Your Very Own  (Read 312 times)

Offline Eddie

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Okay, I wouldn't normally be that interested in what it takes to help a foreign national get a green card these days, but circumstances have conspired to make it personal for me.

My son, the artist, now wishes to marry. I like his new fiancee. She is smart, talented, hardworking, very attractive, and from a great family. However, she is not a US citizen. She has been in the US for many years now, as a student. I think maybe as far back as high school. She went to college here, grad school here, and works here, for a non-profit. She speaks English like a native California girl.

They, the two of them asked us, my wife and I, to sponsor her. She only has one family member in the US who might qualify to fulfill the required role, and that's a sister with two small kids of her own. She and her young husband probably don't have the financial qualifications to meet the requirements. My son, who has gone to school full time for the past two years, certainly doesn't meet the requirements.

Little did I know.

If you google "downside of sponsoring an alien in the US," you will get lots of hits like this one:

If you are sponsoring someone for a family based green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence) you will, in most cases, need to fill out an Affidavit of Support for that person. This is ordinarily done on Form I-864, published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You may also be asked to sign a Form I-864 for a friend or relative, as a joint sponsor, because the main sponsor does not earn enough to support the immigrant alone.
Let's take a look at the legal implications of the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. Signing one is a serious endeavor that should not be done lightly or with anything less than full trust in the immigrant's intentions. You should also attempt to read all the instructions that come with the form.

If you are the main sponsor and you are lucky, you might not have to fill out the long version of the form. Some sponsors get to use a considerably simpler Form I-864EZ rather than the Form I-864. If you are sponsoring only one immigrant, all your income comes from earnings or a retirement plan are shown on a W-2, and your income alone is enough to satisfy the required Poverty Guidelines levels, be sure to use this easier form! (For information on how much income you will need to show, see "How Much Income an Immigrant's Sponsor Needs to Show According to the Poverty Guidelines.")

The Sponsorís Obligations

The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract, meaning that either the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide adequate support to the immigrant. In fact, the law places more obligations on the sponsor than on the immigrant -- the immigrant could decide to quit a job and sue the sponsor for support.

When the government sues the sponsor, it can collect enough money to reimburse any public agencies that have given public benefits to the immigrant. When the immigrant sues, he or she can collect enough money to bring his or her income up to 125% of the amount listed in the U.S. governmentís Poverty Guidelines (as shown in the chart in Form I-864P).

The sponsorís responsibility lasts until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, has earned 40 work quarters credited toward Social Security (a work quarter is about three months, so this means about ten years of work), dies, or permanently leaves the United States. If the immigrant has already been living in the U.S. and earned work credits before applying for the green card, those count toward the 40.
In fact, in marriage-based cases, work done by the U.S. petitioning spouse during the marriage can be counted toward these 40 quarters.


A sponsor in a marriage-based case remains legally obligated even after a divorce. Yes, a divorced immigrant spouse could decide to sit on a couch all day and sue the former spouse for support. The sponsor may wish to have the immigrant sign a separate contract agreeing not to do this, but it is not clear whether courts would enforce such a contract.

Who Can Serve as an Immigrant's Financial Sponsor

The person petitioning the immigrant and any additional financial sponsor(s) must meet three requirements to serve in this role. Each sponsor must be:
ē a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident
ē at least 18 years of age, and
ē live in the United States or a U.S. territory or possession.

As a practical matter, of course, the sponsor will have to doing well financially to get the immigrant approved for a green card. Even if the sponsorís income and assets are lower than the Poverty Guidelines demand, however, he or she must sign an Affidavit of Support. But in a case of low income, the sponsor will have to look for additional sponsors to help the foreign-born person immigrate.
Alternatively, a sponsor might be able to bring his or her income up to the required level -- rather than rely on a joint sponsor -- by adding the would-be immigrantís income to his or her own. This is only possible, however, if the would-be immigrantís income will continue from the same source after he or she gets the green card.

Take particular note of the third requirement above if both the sponsor and the would-be immigrant are presently living overseas. The consulate will require that the sponsor show either that this is a temporary absence and that the sponsor has maintained ties to the U.S., or that he or she intends to reestablish domicile in the U.S. no later than the date that the immigrant is admitted as a permanent resident. Some of the ways the sponsor can show having maintained ties to the U.S. include having paid state or local taxes, kept U.S. bank accounts, kept a permanent U.S. mailing address, or voted in U.S. elections.


Sponsors who try to run away from their obligations will face fines. The U.S. government has anticipated that some sponsors might try to escape their financial obligation by simply moving and leaving no forwarding address. Thatís why the law says that the sponsor must report a new address to USCIS on Form I-865 within 30 days of moving. A sponsor who does not comply faces fines of between $250 and $2,000; or $5,000 if the sponsor knows the immigrant has collected need-based public benefits.

The nitty-gritty:

If the person you sponsor applies and receives any kind of social services, the government can sue you to recoup the money.

The person you sponsor can sue you in state court for support, in a similar fashion to alimony or child support.

You are committed, upon signing the I-864, to sponsor (and if necessary provide support for your chosen alien) until such time as they accrue 40 quarters of Social Security payments to the government, which normally takes ten years ( and that's assuming continuous employment). If the sponsee becomes a naturalized citizen you are off the hook. (that takes a minimum of five years, and they are not obligated to do it.)

The only way to get out of this contract, once it's instated, is to die.

Not an easy decision for a guy my age to make. By the time the sponsorship period ends, I'll most likely have been retired for a few years.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 06:27:13 PM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.


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