In most cases, anyone who wants to immigrate to the United States on a long-term basis must have a current citizen or legal permanent resident act as their sponsor. Taking on a sponsorship role for a prospective immigrant is a big responsibility, and it imposes numerous requirements and obligations that, if not met, could lead to the sponsored immigrant losing their lawful status and potentially being deported.
When it comes to sponsoring an immigrant in Washington DC, it can be immensely helpful to have guidance from an experienced immigration attorney. Beyond assisting with the initial visa application, qualified legal counsel could also ensure you understand all the obligations you have as a sponsor, whether you are supporting a family member or a new employee.
Obligations of an Immigrant Sponsor
Acting as an immigrant’s sponsor is not just a formality. Once a U.S. citizen or permanent resident takes on this role, they also assume financial liability for the person they are sponsoring, as well as for any family members they bring with them. This means that if an immigrant cannot find gainful employment, the sponsor is responsible for supporting them.
Additionally, if the immigrant receives public benefits, the U.S. government can file suit against their sponsor for reimbursement. Finally, immigrant sponsorship currently constitutes a “domestic support obligation” under federal law, which means individuals in Washington DC who are sponsoring an immigrant cannot discharge financial obligations from sponsorship through any kind of bankruptcy.
A sponsor’s obligations do not end until that immigrant achieves U.S. citizenship, acquires 40 work credits, which is equivalent to about ten years of work, permanently leaves the United States, or passes away. Hours worked by an immigrant prior to seeking sponsorship and obtaining a Green Card count toward the aforementioned requirement, as do hours worked by their spouse if that person is acting as their sponsor.
How Sponsors Participate in the Immigration Process
In most circumstances, the sponsor must begin the visa application process on behalf of the prospective immigrant they are sponsoring. Depending on whether the sponsor is a family member or a prospective employer of the immigrant in question, they must fill out and submit either Form I-130 or Form I-140.
Additionally, sponsors must file Form I-864, which is an Affidavit of Support meant to assure the U.S. government that a prospective immigrant will not be a burden on public programs and that their sponsor has the financial capability to care for them if necessary. Generally, a prospective sponsor’s income level must equal or exceed 125 percent of the current federal poverty level for them to remain eligible for sponsorship. However, sponsorship of an immigrant in Washington DC may still be possible for individuals who do not meet that criterion by themselves. A qualified immigration attorney could determine if an individual is eligible for sponsorship.
Speak with a Washington DC Attorney About Sponsoring an Immigrant
Being willing to help a loved one or prospective employee immigrate to a new country is very admirable, but it also places a substantial financial and legal burden on you. In light of that, it is best to go into this process with as much information as possible, and ideally with support from a seasoned legal representative as well.
A knowledgeable immigration attorney could make sure you are well-prepared for sponsoring an immigrant in Washington DC. Call today to schedule a meeting.