Defining A Sponsor In The Immigration Context
A sponsor for immigration purposes can be a family member such as a spouse, parent, or child, or they could even be a friend, family friend, business partner, or employer, provided they live with the intended immigrant. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) follows the U.S. poverty guidelines, and sponsors are required to have an income level at least 125% above these federal poverty guidelines.
If a family doesn’t meet this income criterion, an employer or any other individual willing to act as a sponsor can step in. The sponsor essentially commits to a 10-year period (or 40 quarters) of ensuring the immigrant’s income level suffices for their needs, preventing them from having to rely on federal benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid.
Requirements For Family-Based Immigration
Family-based immigration begins with either the petition or application that describes the relationship between the family member and the intending immigrant. Supporting documentation, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, and any documentation demonstrating a shared life and assets, is of utmost importance. This entire package is then sent to USCIS.
Understanding Who “Family” Is In Immigration Terms
In the context of immigration, “family members” includes the following relationships:
- Spouse or intended spouse
- Brother or sister
- Son or daughter, either unmarried under the age of 21 or unmarried over the age of 21
These familial relationships form the foundation of family-based immigration.
Types Of Visas For Family Members Of U.S. Residents And Citizens
For U.S. residents or citizens seeking to bring a spouse to the United States, they typically use the I-130 form. The intended family member then receives an IR1 Visa if they are not already within the U.S., (which is granted by the U.S. Consulate in their home country), and subsequently immigrates to the United States. If the family member is already in the U.S., they skip the visa step and directly proceed to attain lawful permanent resident status.
Remember, this applies to all immediate family members as there’s no cap on these visas. If the intended immigrant is already in the U.S., they don’t receive a visa, they directly get their green card or lawful permanent resident card. However, if they are outside the U.S., they do receive a visa placed in their passport, enter the U.S. using that, and then receive their lawful permanent resident card or green card.
Starting The Immigration Process As A Sponsor
After all the necessary documents have been filed (such as the I-130), the sponsor needs to complete the I-864 document, also known as the Affidavit of Support. This document, accompanied by the sponsor’s most recent three years of tax returns, marks the initiation of the immigration process.
Immigration Petition Requirements For A U.S. Citizen’s Spouse
As a U.S. citizen, if you want to petition for your spouse who is already in the U.S., you’ll need to prepare several forms:
- I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
- I-130A: Biographic information for the intending immigrant
- I-485: Application to adjust status
- I-765: Application for employment authorization
- I-864: Affidavit of financial sponsorship
Supporting documents include birth certificates, marriage certificates, tax documents, and any documentation showing the couple’s shared life (such as leases, insurance, bank accounts, cell phone accounts, photos of travel, and family gatherings).
Immigrating To The U.S. While A Petition Is Pending
Typically, a family member cannot immigrate to the U.S. while a petition is pending. However, there are exceptions. Occasionally, family members outside of the U.S. can get a B1/B2 visitor’s visa while an I-130 petition is pending. This non-immigrant visa typically lasts for 90 to 180 days, and during that period, the family member could possibly interview in the U.S.
Meeting The Financial Support Requirements For Family Immigration
USCIS determines if an individual’s assets meet the financial support requirements by referencing the Federal Poverty Guidelines. A sponsor’s income must be 125% above the federal poverty guidelines, taking into account their household size.
For more information on the Role Of A Sponsor In Family-Based Immigration, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (662) 672-6663 today.