Sponsoring, in the immigration context, is the requesting that an immigrant receives a Green Card (“Lawful Permanent Residence”) and that the Sponsor will claim financial responsibility if the immigrant requests public benefits when in the United States. Sponsoring is financial based, and as such, the finances of the Sponsor must exceed 125% of the requisite minimum (100% of the requisite minimum if in the U.S. Armed Forces). The requisite minimum is called the “Poverty Guidelines” and the most recent guideline may be found on the USCIS website, titled: I-864P.
As a side note, apart from the amount of money someone annually makes, the USCIS Poverty Guidelines also takes into account the number of persons within the household, which will increase the requisite minimum amount accordingly.
If an individual does not meet the requisite minimum amount, he or she may ask close friends or family to become a co-sponsor. The Sponsors (comprised of the original and the joint sponsors) would then calculate their individual incomes to receive more than 125% of the requisite minimum within the poverty guideline.
Sponsoring may be a good thing because a spouse may sponsor the other spouse, a parent may sponsor a child, and an employer may sponsor an employee. Each of these scenarios proves the benefit of people being able to be together within the United States.
The main issue here is who sponsors the immigrant and that person’s status. If the sponsor is financially qualified and establishes (1) an immediate relative relationship, (2) a family-based preference relationship, or (3) an employment-based preference relationship, the remaining issue would be the length of time for processing.
Another good aspect of sponsoring is self-sponsoring. The immigrant themselves may qualify to request their own Green Card, based on limited circumstances. A few examples of limited circumstances may be 10 years of employment in the United States, being widowed from a U.S. Citizen, or being a battered spouse or child.
Sponsors should consider the legal ramification of becoming a sponsor. Sponsorship is a pledge to the U.S. Government that the Sponsor will be financially responsible for the immigrant while the immigrant is in the United States, up to the point of the immigrant receiving citizenship. A spouse who sponsors the other spouse may be happily married now, but if they divorce prior to the other spouse receiving citizenship, the sponsor may be paying for the other spouse to receive “public benefits.”
Moreover, a sponsor may be fined $2000 to $5000 if they intentionally fail to give USCIS notice of their change of address while the immigrant receives public benefits. However, if the failure to report the change of address was accidental, then the sponsor could be fined $250 to $2000.
Thus, sponsorship has its ups and downs, and if a person qualifies to be a sponsor, he or she may participate in the immigration process.
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