Sponsoring an Immigrant in Atlanta
Serving as the “sponsor” for someone who immigrates to the United States is a massive responsibility, and not just on a personal level. In Georgia and throughout the country, being an immigrant’s sponsor means being liable for them in a financial and legal sense for a substantial period of time, and you must meet certain prerequisite conditions before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will even allow you to take on those obligations.
Guidance from seasoned legal counsel can be key to understanding what goes into sponsoring an immigrant in Atlanta and what you should expect while applying for—as well as after formally taking on—this role. If you have questions about this kind of endeavor, a knowledgeable immigration attorney could offer clarification and explain everything you need to know during an initial consultation.
Beginning the Sponsorship Process
Someone who wants to sponsor a prospective immigrant to Atlanta must first complete and sign Form I-864, often referred to as an “affidavit of support.” This form is a legally binding contract and is often submitted alongside other paperwork that a prospective immigrant’s sponsor must complete on their behalf. For example, Form I-130 is meant for immigrants sponsored by family members, while Form I-140 works for immigrants sponsored by prospective employees.
In addition to affirming that the sponsor will accept financial liability for the immigrant in question, this Affidavit of Support must also establish that the prospective sponsor’s household income is at least 125 percent or more of the income level considered to be the U.S. poverty line. Notably, though, multiple household members can serve as contributing sources of income for this purpose, and active-duty U.S. military servicemembers only have to demonstrate household member income greater than 100 percent of the poverty line.
What Responsibilities Do Sponsors Have?
Once someone is accepted as an immigrant’s sponsor, their obligations as sponsor will remain in effect until that immigrant obtains 40 quarters of work credit, becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, or leaves the U.S. to become a permanent resident somewhere else. According to the Social Security Administration, 40 hours of work credit usually equates to about 10 years of work. During this time, the sponsor holds financial liability for any means-tested government assistance or benefits that the immigrant receives. By the time, sponsors are also partially responsible for providing direct financial support to the immigrant they are sponsoring to ensure they remain above the poverty line.
Potential sponsors in Atlanta should also understand that there is virtually no way to get out of sponsoring an immigrant early. For example, divorcing a spouse or fiancé does not end any existing sponsorship obligations towards that former partner, nor can sponsorship obligations be discharged thoroughly bankruptcy. Finally, sponsors must update USCIS every time they change addresses, and they may be subject to substantial financial penalties any time they fail to do so.
Call Our team About Sponsoring an Immigrant in Atlanta
Sponsorship is a vital part of the immigration process for the vast majority of people who move to the U.S. from elsewhere in the world. However, agreeing to be a prospective immigrant’s sponsor is not to be taken lightly, especially if you have a household income close to the poverty line.
A skilled lawyer could offer irreplaceable guidance and support throughout the process of sponsoring an immigrant in Atlanta. Call today to schedule a meeting.