If you intend to become a legal permanent resident through a family-based immigration petition, your sponsor must file an affidavit of support. This affidavit ensures you have sufficient financial support to avoid the need for certain government benefits. For some intending immigrants, the affidavit of support is an obstacle to securing a green card.
The affidavit of support is a legally binding contract between your sponsoring family member and the federal government. This contract requires the person who files the immigrant petition to support you financially until you become a U.S. citizen or earn 40 quarters of work credits.
The responsible party
Typically, the person who files an immigrant visa petition executes the affidavit of support. To do so, though, he or she must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who is at least 18 years old. Also, the sponsor’s household income must be at or above 125% of the federal poverty line. If the petitioner is in the U.S. military, however, his or her household income must only be equal to 100%.
A joint sponsor
If your family member who files the immigrant visa petition does not meet the affidavit of support’s financial requirements, you may need to find a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor must independently meet the requirements for the affidavit of support. That is, he or she must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has a household income equal to or greater than the applicable poverty threshold.
A couple of exceptions
Not every family-based immigrant must have an affidavit of support on file. If either of the following apply to you, you are likely exempt from the requirement:
- You have already earned 40 quarters of work credits
- You are eligible to self-petition for legal permanent residency
For most seekers of family-based legal permanent residency, filing an affidavit of support is part of the process. If the affidavit obligation applies to you, ensuring your family member meets all necessary requirements or locating a joint sponsor is vital for obtaining your green card.