I-864 And How To Find A Joint Sponsor For Your Green Card Application
Qualifying for a U.S. visa is not enough to be approved for a green card. You will also need to prove you won’t become a public charge and rely on government assistance for your survival. This rule was put into place to protect the tax paying U.S. public from footing the bill for new immigrants. So, how do you find a joint sponsor when the petitioner doesn’t make enough money?
I’ve been asked this question several times and my answer is always the same. Find anyone that is a friend, family or acquaintance of the sponsor who is willing to guarantee their income or assets.
Unfortunately, there isn’t service out there that looks for a joint sponsor for you. It’ll be really difficult to convince a random stranger to provide you with 3 years tax returns as well as bank account details.
The joint sponsor must fill out form I-864 Affidavit of Support as well as the petitioner. USCIS allows you to use a maximum of 2 joint sponsors to help meet the income requirement.
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What Is The 2017 Income Requirement?
|Household Size||100% Poverty GuidelineActive duty in the U.S. Armed Forces||125% Poverty GuidelineFor all other sponsors|
The financial obligation under for I-864 will end only if the following circumstances are met:
- The beneficiary has worked 40 quarters (10 years)
- The beneficiary has become a U.S. citizen
- The beneficiary permanently leaves the U.S.
- The beneficiary dies
Without the above events happening, the sponsor and joint sponsor will be financial responsible for the beneficiary. If they do file for government assistance, form I-864 allows the state or government to sue the sponsor to get the funds back for the American public.
What Are The Requirements For A Joint Sponsor?
For someone to eligible to sponsor an immigrant, they must meet some basics requirements. The requirements below must also be met by the U.S. petitioner to file a petition for their foreign family member.
- Must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or U.S. national;
- Must be at least 18 years of age; and
- Domiciled in the United States.
Leslie filed form I-130 for her husband Julio. They were approved 5 months later and their case was sent to the National Visa Center for processing. The NVC required that Leslie submit the affidavit of support form I-864 and meet the income requirement for her household size.
Leslie has 2 children under the age of 10 so her household size is calculated as 4 people. This means that she needs an income of $30,750 to meet the income requirement but she currently works part-time as teachers aid and makes $19,950.
Since Leslie doesn’t meet the income requirement, she will need to find a joint sponsor that does. If she can’t find anyone willing to sign form I-864 she will not be able to bring her husband Julio to the United States.
There is no way to bypass this requirement because if USCIS believes that the intending immigrant will become a public charge they are automatically inadmissible.
Where Can You Find Someone To Be A Joint Sponsor?
Earlier, I told you that there isn’t service that finds a joint sponsor for you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find someone who meets the income requirement to guarantee financial support for the intending immigrant.
The first step to finding a joint sponsor is to look at the closest people to the U.S. petitioner. Ask parents, siblings, cousin and coworkers if they would be willing to help you. Someone may be kind enough to assist you by filling out form I-864 and providing financial evidence to prove their income.
If none of these people will work, you can look outside your social circle to people you aren’t as close to. I’ll warn you that it will be very difficult to convince anyone that isn’t close to you to give you their financial documents as a favor.
Danny needs to fill out form I-864 for his new bride Margaret. He was recently laid off from his corporate job of 10 years without much notice. He did receive a severance package of $10,000 but since he has no income, it will not be enough to supplement the shortfall. Danny must find a joint sponsor that can meet the income requirement for their household plus the intending immigrant.
In the case above, Danny has no income but does have cash in the bank. He can include this cash on the I-864 that he will fill out but the joint sponsor must been the entire income requirement alone.
Pooling Household Income With Other Relatives
If the petitioner lives with another adult of family member that is working, they have the option to pool the household income to meet the requirement. This is a great option for those of you who have adult children that have jobs and can help out.
A household member must fill out form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
This form is similar to the I-864 that the sponsor and joint sponsor sign to guarantee that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge. The difference is that the household member promises to make their income available to the sponsor to care for the intending immigrant.
Remember, the obligations under form I-864A will only end when the financial responsibility of the sponsor expire.
What Happens If You Can’t Find A Joint Sponsor?
Unfortunately, if you can’t find a joint sponsor then your only option is to have the petitioner meet it themselves. I’m sure you’re wondering how that will be possible if the petitioner doesn’t make enough money.
One way is to get a second job. If the petitioner can find a part-time job that supplements their income, that will help a great deal. I know this isn’t an option for some people but if you truly want to bring your foreign relative to the U.S., you should do whatever it takes.
Another option is to use your assets to meet the gap in income. Assets can be anything that is liquid and quickly turned into cash within 12 months. This can include the following:
- Checking and savings account
- Investment accounts
- Rental real estate
- Second vehicle
Julie is petitioning for wife Amanda and needs to file form I-864. Julie is in the U.S. military and met Amanda and her 3 children in Germany. Julie makes a good income but since she is petitioning for Amanda and 3 stepchildren, her income is not quite enough.
Julie will need to find a joint sponsor that will help meet the income requirement. It’s important to know that since Julie is active duty military, her income requirement is much lower than civilians.
Since Julie is active duty military, she only needs to meet 100% of the poverty guidelines. This means that the joint sponsor also needs to meet 100% of the poverty guidelines. It may still be difficult to find someone to agree to be a joint sponsor but you need to come up with less income or assets to meet the requirement.
Final Thoughts On Finding A Joint Sponsor
Although it won’t be easy finding a joint sponsor, it’s absolutely necessary if you don’t make enough money to sponsor your relative alone. There are other options such as using your assets or combining household income to meet the income requirement.
For those of you looking for some type of service that will connect you with someone who will serve as a joint sponsor, you won’t find it. Because USCIS asks for so much financial information, the joint sponsor must be willing to give you sensitive documents such as tax returns.
Few people would be willing to do this if they aren’t related to you. I’m saying this because I personally wouldn’t do this unless it was for a family member. This is why I recommend trying to convince close family members to be the joint sponsor. Parents are usually willing to do this as a favor for their children who want to bring their spouse to the U.S.
I understand that not everyone has a close relationship with family member or may be orphans themselves. In these cases, try to find a close friend or coworkers that would be willing to help you out. This is a life changing favor for you and remind them of how grateful you would be if they offered to help you reunite your family.
If all else fails, I’d suggest the sponsor get a second job or find assets in their name. Sell things around the house. Ask the beneficiary if they have any money saved up. Combine income with other working household members, etc.
The point is to not give up and look at all of your options when looking for a joint sponsor.
Are you having trouble finding a joint sponsor? If so, have any of the above options given you some ideas on meeting the income requirement? Let me know in the comments below.
Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.