A joint sponsor plays a crucial role in the U.S. immigration process, particularly in cases where the primary sponsor (usually the petitioner or the intending immigrant) does not meet the financial requirements to support the sponsored immigrant. Here are the key aspects of the role of a joint sponsor in U.S. immigration:
- Financial Support: A joint sponsor is an individual who agrees to provide financial support to the sponsored immigrant. This support typically includes meeting the income requirements for the specific visa or immigration application. For example, if you are sponsoring a family member for an immigrant visa or green card, you may be required to demonstrate that your income is above a certain threshold to ensure that the immigrant will not become a public charge.
- Legal Responsibility: By agreeing to be a joint sponsor, the individual takes legal responsibility for financially supporting the immigrant. This means that the joint sponsor must be willing to provide the immigrant with financial assistance to meet their basic needs, such as housing, food, and medical care.
- Affidavit of Support: In most cases, a joint sponsor will need to complete an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to officially assume this financial responsibility. The joint sponsor must submit this form, along with the necessary supporting documentation, as part of the immigration application.
- Eligibility Criteria: Joint sponsors must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, having the required income or assets, and being willing to assume financial responsibility for the immigrant. The specific eligibility criteria can vary depending on the type of visa or immigration process involved.
- Documentation: Joint sponsors are required to provide financial documentation to prove their income and assets. This typically includes tax returns, W-2 forms, and other financial records to demonstrate their ability to financially support the immigrant.
- Combined Income: In some cases, the income of both the primary sponsor and the joint sponsor can be combined to meet the financial requirements. This is particularly useful when the primary sponsor’s income alone does not meet the threshold.
- Revocable Responsibility: The joint sponsor’s responsibility typically continues until the immigrant either becomes a U.S. citizen, completes 40 quarters of work (usually about 10 years), or is no longer a permanent resident and leaves the United States permanently.
Joint sponsor eligibility requirements
The eligibility requirements for a joint sponsor in the context of U.S. immigration typically depend on the specific immigration category and visa type. However, there are some common eligibility criteria that joint sponsors generally need to meet. Here are the typical requirements:
- U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident: The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). In most cases, non-U.S. citizens, such as visa holders, are not eligible to be joint sponsors.
- Age Requirement: Joint sponsors should be at least 18 years old.
- Domicile in the United States: The joint sponsor must be living in the United States at the time they sign the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and throughout the immigration process.
- Sufficient Income or Assets: The joint sponsor must demonstrate that their income or assets meet or exceed the minimum financial requirements for the specific immigration category they are sponsoring. The income must be at or above 125% of the federal poverty guidelines for their household size. If their income alone does not meet the requirement, they can use assets to supplement their income.
- Acceptance of Legal Responsibility: The joint sponsor must be willing to accept the legal responsibility to financially support the sponsored immigrant. They are committing to providing financial assistance to meet the immigrant’s basic needs and ensuring that the immigrant will not become a public charge.
- Completion of the Affidavit of Support: The joint sponsor is required to complete and sign the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and submit it along with the immigration application. This form is a legally binding contract that confirms the joint sponsor’s commitment to providing financial support.
- Proving U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status: The joint sponsor will need to provide documentation to prove their U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status, such as a U.S. passport, birth certificate, or green card.
- Financial Documentation: The joint sponsor is also required to provide financial documentation to verify their income and assets. This may include tax returns, W-2 forms, bank statements, and other financial records.