Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1. Who can be a joint sponsor for an affidavit of support?

Last night, at QARI’s monthly legal clinic, an elderly Chinese couple asked me who can be a joint sponsor for their daughter’s I-864 affidavit of support. An affidavit of support is a form that must be submitted with many family-sponsored green card applications. The purpose of the form is to show that the person applying for the green card will have enough financial support to live in the U.S. without becoming dependent on the government’s welfare. The person who signs the affidavit of support is promising the U.S. government that he will be financially responsible for the person applying for the green card.

The petitioner, who is the family member sponsoring the green card applicant, is required to complete and sign an affidavit of support. If the petitioner does not have enough income to support the applicant, he may ask someone, who does have sufficient income, to help him jointly sponsor the green card applicant.

Not everyone can be a joint sponsor. To qualify as a joint sponsor, the person must be at least 18 years old; he must be a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S., and he must be domiciled in the U.S. Domicile is a legal word, and it generally means that the person lives in the U.S. or its territories. If the person lives outside the U.S., he can still prove that he is domiciled in the U.S. if he has evidence that he is living outside of the U.S. for a temporary reason and that he has maintained strong connections with the U.S. and intends to return to live there.

The types of people who can serve as joint sponsors are relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. It is usually a good idea to ask someone you personally know to be a joint sponsor. Certain high fraud consular posts, such as Guangzhou, China, have, in the past, suspected fraud when people have paid others to act as a joint sponsor.

Many people are shy about asking for help. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Even if the person you want to ask has already sponsored someone else, that person can still be your relative’s joint sponsor, as long as he makes enough income to support himself and his dependents.

If you have other questions about the affidavit of support or the green card process, please call or email me.