All About Sponsoring an Immigrant - Your Rights, Your Obligations
Individuals who would like to help their relatives come to the United States can do so by becoming their sponsor. You can sponsor a relative if you are a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident. You must show that you have adequate financial means to support the new immigrant, so that they don't end up needing public assistance.
To serve as a sponsor, you'll need to fill out Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support. The new immigrant will need this form from you to start their immigration process. You can sponsor a relative for employment reasons as well, testifying that you can provide a job for them in your business.
To qualify as a sponsor, you'll need to demonstrate that your income is at least 125 percent of the federal standard for poverty. The limit is lower if you are an active-duty member of the military. You may use the income of any family member in your household to help you meet the income requirement.
It is a myth that once one family member is in the United States, they can easily help bring all of their extended family over. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security classifies relatives as "immediate" relatives or "preference" relatives. Immediate relatives wait a shorter time to get their green cards and legally immigrate. The country from which the new immigrant comes can also play a role in determining how long it will take.
Your citizenship status also affects the length of the waiting time until the new immigrant's application is approved. For instance, unmarried adult children of a U.S. citizen will usually have a shorter wait than the adult children of a permanent resident. Brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen are considered a lower priority and may wait more than a decade for admission. If your adult children marry before coming to the U.S., it will end your ability to sponsor them, so they should wait until coming to the United States to marry.
Once you have been approved as a sponsor, your obligation to support the new immigrant continues until this person becomes a citizen, or has done qualifying work in the U.S. for 10 years. If the person you sponsored dies or decides to leave the country, your obligation ends. But if you sponsor your spouse to come to the U.S. and then decide to divorce after they arrive, note that it does not affect your sponsorship obligation.
As you can see, immigration law is complex. An attorney experienced in immigration law can help you understand and successfully navigate the system, to bring your relatives to the U.S. as soon as possible.
For more information about sponsoring an immigrant, contact our Maryland immigration law office.
Photo via Flickr user blmurch
Categories: Immigration Law