Many immigrant visas for legal entry or residency in the United States require an American sponsor. Sponsoring an immigrant in the United States can be a huge responsibility.
Each year about 800,000 foreign-born residents become naturalized citizens. But the process toward obtaining a green card, and eventually citizenship, can be rigorous.
Sponsoring a Family Member
There are several types of sponsorships for family members.
Requirements for Sponsorship
A sponsor must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Citizens who live abroad, such as military personnel, must provide evidence that their stay out of the country is only temporary.
In order to vouch for a family member, a sponsor can complete an affidavit of support. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), this assurance document is a legal record.
Individuals who wish to sponsor an immigrant in the USA may ask someone to share the responsibility. However, sponsors may not combine their incomes in order to meet the required income threshold for sponsorship.
In the event that a sponsoring family member passes away after the approval of a visa petition, USCIS may allow for someone to take their place and assume responsibility. Because the original sponsor was a relative, the replacement sponsor must be family, as well.
Whether a person is a sponsor, joint sponsor, or substitute sponsor, they must be able to earn an adequate salary. The income threshold is generally 125% or more of the U.S. poverty line for the relevant household size.
An exception applies for soldiers, as well as those sponsoring their spouse or child. In this instance, income must meet or exceed the poverty level for a family of the sponsor’s size.
Sponsoring an Employee
A company, or prospective employer, may sponsor a foreign national for lawful permanent residency, based on a job offer. They first need to perform a labor certification.
A labor certification shows that, after a diligent search, there was not a pool of qualified applicants among U.S. citizens. Some employees may seek other types of visas that waive the labor certification requirement, such as the EB-2 national interest waiver or the EB-1A extraordinary ability green card.
Speak with an Immigration Attorney
If you are going to be sponsoring a noncitizen, or if you are seeking an EB-2 NIW or EB-1A, you might need legal assistance.
To err on the side of prudence, contact an immigration attorney to discuss your options and ensure your compliance with United States immigration law.