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Most immigrants seeking to become lawful permanent residents of the United States based on family preference or employment must have a sponsor who demonstrates a willingness to hire or support them, usually for a substantial period of time. The process of becoming a sponsor can be complicated and it creates legal obligations, so it is important for any individual or company sponsoring an immigrant in St. Louis to be aware of the requirements, obligations and responsibilities of this role. Fortunately, the attorneys at Hacking Immigration Law, LLC could explain this role in detail and address any concerns you may have if you are considering sponsorship.

Who Can Sponsor a Green Card?

Usually, a person seeking Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status must be sponsored by someone who already has a green card or is United States citizen. This can be either a family member or an employer. If the sponsor is an employer, the person seeking legal permanent residency must be shown to be exceptional in their field of work or study.

Additionally, any employer who wishes to sponsor an immigrant in St. Louis for LPR status must prove that the applicant will receive adequate pay. When sponsoring a family member for a green card, the process is typically determined by the type of relationship that the applicant has to the sponsor. For example, spouses of U.S. citizens typically have a shorter wait time to receive their green card, whereas brothers and sisters may wait for more than 12 years.

Due to the complexities and requirements for sponsoring an immigrant for LPR status, it is encouraged to speak with a St. Louis lawyer who could help with this process and explain what obligations must be met.

Sponsoring an Employee

In the majority of cases in St. Louis, an employer must gain approval from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) before sponsoring an immigrant for work. Additionally, in some situations, an employer may need to submit an Application for Permanent Labor Certification. Once these conditions are met, an employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In some situations, this petition may be combined with an application for permanent residency.

U. S. employers may sponsor current or prospective employees that reside either inside or outside the U.S. if they qualify under one of the employment-based immigration visa categories, referred to as “EB” categories. These categories are organized and prioritized based on criteria established by Congress. They include in order of preference:

  • EB-1: Priority Workers
  • EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability
  • EB-3: Professional or Skilled or Unskilled Workers
  • EB-4: Special Immigrants

Sponsoring a Family Member

When a U.S. citizen or LPR sponsors a family member, this person must file an Affidavit of Support pledging that they will provide financial support to the immigrant. In most cases, the sponsor is the person who files the petition on behalf of the prospective immigrant.

To be a sponsor, an individual must be at least 18 years old, be a citizen or LPR, have a domicile in the U.S. or a U.S. possession, and meet certain income requirements, generally by demonstrating that the individual’s household income is at least 125% of the poverty level. It is important for sponsors to understand that the affidavit they file on behalf of the immigrant is a legally enforceable contract. This means that the sponsor continues to bear legal responsibility for the immigrant for a specified period.

In most cases, a sponsor remains responsible until the immigrant either becomes a U.S. citizen, is credited with 40 quarters of employment as defined by the Social Security Administration, dies, or leaves the U.S. permanently. This responsibility continues even if the sponsor becomes bankrupt or if the sponsor was married to the immigrant and then gets a divorce.

Learn More About Sponsoring an Immigrant in St. Louis

The details of immigration sponsorship are complex, and the responsibilities can be burdensome, so it is vital for anyone considering sponsorship to understand the obligations and procedures involved. A lawyer could help someone who is sponsoring an immigrant in St. Louis by advising them of their obligations and guiding them throughout the visa process.

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