If you want to sponsor a family member for an immigrant visa to the United States, you must prove your income is above a certain level. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intends to prevent immigrants from becoming public charges and seeking government assistance, so sponsors are legally bound to support visa applicants.
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The minimum income level to successfully petition for an immigrant visa is 125 per cent of the current federal poverty guidelines. This amount varies depending on the size of the household. For 2010, an income of £11,838 satisfied the requirements for a two-person family, while it took £30,070 to fulfil the 125 per cent threshold for an eight-person family unit. For petitioners sponsoring a nonimmigrant visa, such as the K-1 "spousal" visa, the threshold is 100 per cent of federal poverty guidelines, as opposed to 125 per cent for immigrant visas.
If the poverty threshold cannot be met solely with income, assets may be used to supplement the application. The amount of assets needed to pass the minimum requirements equals 5 times the difference between the poverty threshold level and the petitioner's current income. The assets of the immigrant also may be included, as may income and assets of household dependents, as long as they file additional paperwork authorising their support of the affidavit.
If a petitioner cannot satisfy the governmental income requirements for sponsorship, a co-sponsor is required for the visa application. The co-sponsor must reach the 125 per cent threshold independently of the original sponsor's income. In other words, the co-sponsor cannot combine his income with the primary petitioner's in order to reach the minimum requirement. Co-sponsorship of an immigrant visa is a legally binding contract, and it makes the co-sponsor 100 per cent liable for the support of the immigrant.
The USCIS allows for a few situations in which an immigrant does not have to file an affidavit of support. If the sponsored individual already has worked for 40 quarters in the United States or is entering the country as a battered spouse via an approved Form I-360, then the affidavit is not required. Additionally, if an orphan is properly adopted by a U.S. citizen, or if an immigrant holds an approved I-360 petition for an Amerasian, widow, special immigrant, or self-petitioning widow or widower, they are exempted from the affidavit of support requirements.
Duration of Support
Once filed, a petitioner is financially liable until the sponsored immigrant either obtains U.S. citizenship or can be credited with 40 quarters of work.
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