If you intend to sponsor a family member for legal permanent residency in the U.S., there is a good chance you must complete an affidavit of support. This legal contract ensures your relative will not rely on public benefits after he or she receives a green card.
When you execute an affidavit of support, you agree to provide financial support for the person you sponsor. If you do not meet the necessary income requirements, you may have to find a joint sponsor who is also willing to file an affidavit of support on behalf of your relative.
Providing financial support
The U.S. and many states have public programs that provide financial assistance to individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. Many means-tested programs are simply off limits to new immigrants. Nevertheless, if the relative you sponsor receives public benefits, the affidavit of support requires you to repay the agency that issued them.
Federal, state and local governments may enforce the affidavit of support you execute. If you refuse to repay the government, you may find yourself in court. After winning a judgement against you, the government may initiate collections activities or garnish your wages.
Continuing for the foreseeable future
While the affidavit of support you submit will probably not last forever, it is likely to be enforceable for the foreseeable future. Specifically, your support obligations continue until one of the following occurs:
- The beneficiary becomes a U.S. citizen
- The beneficiary earns 40 work credits
- The beneficiary dies
- The beneficiary permanently leaves the U.S.
Because the affidavit of support creates a long-term financial obligation, it is important to weigh all its potential consequences before submitting it. After you do, you must also notify the federal government every time you move while the affidavit of support is in effect.