What is a Joint Sponsor for Marriage-based Green Cards?
USCIS set guidelines for immigration sponsorship income requirements. A main sponsor can get help from a joint sponsor to meet the minimum income requirements to apply for a marriage-based Green Card. Here, we will look over the requirements and responsibilities of a joint sponsor and I-864(Affidavit of Support) & I-864A(Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member).
I. What does a joint sponsor do?
During the marriage-based Green Card process, when the main sponsor of the Green Card might not meet the minimum income requirements for a Green Card, the main sponsor can seek the help of a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor can provide the sponsorship to financially support the applicant of the Green Card.
II. When would a joint sponsor be necessary?
As mentioned above, when the main sponsor and its household cannot meet the minimum income requirements through his/her assets, a joint sponsor for green card may be needed to assist.
Other reasons might be that the main sponsor has sufficient income and financial assets, however are not able to provide such documentation to prove meeting the minimum income requirements. If the main sponsor does not have an established history of sufficient financial requirements overtime, or if such finances and assets are not reflected on documents in U.S. financial documents, a joint sponsor may also be necessary.
III. What are the minimum income requirements to sponsor an immigrant?
It is required that 125% of the minimum poverty guideline be earned by the main sponsor to qualify. The USCIS sets guidelines for these minimum income requirements to apply for a marriage-based Green Card. Effective April 1, 2021 (currently), for a household of two (2), with no children, living in the 48 contiguous states, the minimum immigration sponsorship income requirements for 2021 is $21,775.00.
IV. What if my income is too low?
Aside from the main income, assets may be used to qualify. However, specific guidelines exist where the value of the assets must be equal to at least five (5) times the difference between the household income and minimum income requirement.
V. What responsibilities does the joint sponsor have?
Primarily, the joint sponsor will be just as responsible as the main sponsor when it comes to providing financial support for the marriage-based Green Card applicant. Just as the main sponsor generally is required to maintain financial support for the marriage-based Green Card applicant, the joint sponsor will be required to do so during their sponsorship agreement period.
Second, the joint sponsor may need to reimburse the U.S. government for any use of public benefit by the marriage-based Green Card applicant. However, with the changes in recent legislation with regard to the “public charge rule,” if this applies to you, please consult our team of experts to determine if this situation applies.
Lastly, during the sponsorship agreement period of the joint sponsorship, the joint sponsor for green card will need to keep their address updated with the USCIS. The joint sponsor for green card may do this using a Form I-865 (Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address) within thirty (30) days of the change during the sponsorship agreement period. Failure to update the address can result in a fine from the U.S. government.
VI. What is the sponsorship agreement period?
The joint sponsorship agreement period will begin once the Green Card has been approved.
The sponsorship agreement period will end when one of the following events occur:
- The marriage-based Green Card applicant becomes a U.S. citizen; or
- The marriage-based Green Card applicant is credited with employment in the United States for 40 quarters (approximately 10 years); or
- The marriage-based Green Card applicant leaves the United States; or
- The marriage-based Green Card applicant becomes deceased; or
- The joint sponsor becomes deceased.
VII. How to apply to become a joint sponsor?
In order to apply as a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must also file a Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support), just as the main sponsor will be required to do so. The main sponsor cannot combine his or her income, finances or assets with the joint sponsor, and the joint sponsor must also file their income, finances or assets independently of the main sponsor (Affidavit of Support).
VIII. What are the requirements to apply as a joint sponsor?
In order to become a joint sponsor for green card, the following requirements must all be met:
- 18 years or older
- U.S. citizen or Green Card holder
- Resident of the U.S. or U.S. territory
- NOT be a resident of either spouse’s household
- Income equal to at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline
- Fill out a Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)
Joint sponsors for green card do NOT have to be family members or related to the main sponsor or the marriage-based Green Card applicant.
IX. What if the joint sponsor lives with the main sponsor or the marriage-based Green Card applicant?
If the joint sponsor resides with either the main sponsor or the marriage-based Green Card applicant, the household members will need to fill out Form I-864A (Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member). While filling out the Form I-864A, the joint sponsor may include income, finances and assets from its household members that are adult children, adult siblings and parents. Adult children and adult siblings must have been claimed as dependents on the joint sponsor’s most recent U.S. federal income tax return or have resided with the joint sponsor for the most recent six (6) months. If income, finances and assets are combined with the joint sponsor, each household member must complete a separate Form I-864A to file with the joint sponsor’s Form I-864(Affidavit of Support).
X. What documents must be filed with the Form I-864(Affidavit of Support)?
The same forms that a main sponsor must file with their Affidavit of Support must be also filed with the joint sponsor’s Form I-864. In general, documents showing the proof of income, finances and assets, along with the proof of U.S. citizenship or Green Card will be required to be submitted.
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