Sponsoring someone for a visa means that the sponsor acts as a "guarantor" for the foreign party's good behaviour and financial sustainability in the country of destination. Whether staying temporarily or permanently, both the foreigner and sponsor must follow the guidelines and requirements implemented by the government, as well as pay the fees for the sponsorship application. In the United States, apart from proving viable income, the sponsor serves as the "link" to the foreign citizen being sponsored.
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Determine the type of visa to be applied for: immigration visa for family, work or business, student visa or any other non-immigrant visa. Fill up an Affidavit of Support, Form I-864EZ. Since the sponsor generally needs to meet certain income requirements, depending on the type of visa for sponsorship and the number of individuals to be sponsored, a maximum of two joint sponsors per petition can be used. For joint sponsorships, a Form I-864 is used instead of the Form I-864EZ. Other cases must also use other I-864 series forms, which also include the Forms I-864A and I-864W.
Submit the Affidavit of Support along with the required supporting documents to the National Visa Center and pay the applicable fees. As the scope of each application varies in every case, it is best to check on the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services websites for more detailed information for each case.
Wait as the NVC reviews the forms for completeness and correctness. In cases that a form is incomplete or there are errors on how the sponsor filled it, the NVC will ask the sponsor to correct and complete the form according to the explanations provided by NVC. Once accepted, this will be sent to the immigrant visa petition department of the embassy or consulate where the applicant will apply for the visa.
Follow the instructions from the NVC, which will be mailed both to the sponsor and the visa applicant. The waiting period depends on the type of visa applied for.
Complete all documents required for a visa application, according to the requirements of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country of origin. The individual applying for a visa must also get specific documents to prove personal and/or professional relationship with the sponsor.
For a non-immigrant visa applicant, a letter of invitation from the sponsor must be provided to the visa applicant. This document must be submitted along with the rest of the personal and income documents needed for a visa application. As these documents vary depending on the individual's circumstance, supporting documents may also be required by the consular officer during the visa interview.
Schedule a visa interview through the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country of origin. For an immigrant visa application, the sponsor is the one who will furnish the initial documents to be submitted. The process may take a few months or a few years, depending on the priority date for the type of visa applied for. Once approved, the visa applicant will receive a letter providing further instructions, including how to schedule a visa interview.
For a non-immigrant visa, fill the application form and schedule a visa interview online or by phone, depending on the available options from the U.S. embassy or consulate.
Pay the application fees. The amount depends on the type of visa applied for. Ideally, the cost of immigrant visas is significantly higher than non-immigrant visas.
Go to the visa interview with all the required and supporting documents. For a non-immigrant visa application, the general list of requirements for each case can be viewed online through the U.S. embassy or consulate website of the country of origin. For an immigrant visa application, the mailed packet for the applicant contains the specific requirements to be brought during the visa interview.
Tips and warnings
- Every application presents a distinct case that may be unique or even complicated because of the many considerations for the application requirements. Although the NVC and USCIS websites provide extensive information for each case, the advice of immigration and visa experts and lawyers become more reliable bases for every case.
- To determine eligibility, a sponsor must comply with the income and domicile requirements and poverty guidelines. If the sponsor's income meets minimum federal poverty guidelines, there is no need to present other documents providing proof of assets. Generally, the sponsor's assets must meet the 125 per cent minimum income requirement during the date of application.
- The sponsor must submit an IRS transcript or photocopy of the most recent federal income tax return. The sponsor may also submit the three most recent tax returns if they can help establish the ability to maintain household income required in the poverty guidelines. If the sponsor relies on income from other household members to reach the income requirement, a copy or IRS transcript of each household member's most recent tax return must also be submitted and each person must also complete a Form I-864A. Depending on the case, a consular officer may request additional documents as evidence of income such as certification of employment.
- To establish a domicile in the Untied States, the aspiring sponsor must show that the United States is his principal place of residence. There are many ways to establish domicile, including finding employment in the United States, registering children in U.S. schools, securing a residence in the United States and other evidence of a U.S. residence.
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- Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton: Managing Immigration Sponsorship: A Flexible Policy Is the Wisest Strategy
- Immihelp: Sample Invitation Letter for Visitor Visa
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Affidavit of Support
- Path2USA: Documents Required for Visitor Visa Applicant
- The Immigration Home Page: Table of Family Sponsorship by a U.S. Citizen
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act