Can I Sponsor an Immigrant that is a Non-Family Member?
Posted by Frank Gogol in Immigrants | Updated on November 22, 2022
Can a U.S. citizen sponsor a non-family member for immigration? Unfortunately, no, you can’t petition for a foreign national’s visa or green card if they aren’t a family member. But there is still a way you can help. You can sponsor your friend’s immigration petition financially. Being a financial sponsor to an immigrant can make a big difference to their application and can be the difference between being approved or rejected.
You can sponsor your friend financially by providing a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. But before you commit to sponsoring your friend financially, you must understand what it means.
When you sponsor your friend, you guarantee they will have enough finances (from their employment and from your financial assistance), so they won’t become a public charge.
Table of Contents
What is the “Public Charge Rule”?
The public charge rule prevents someone from immigrating to the U.S. if they are likely to depend on the government for subsistence. Basically, if they will be needing the government’s financial assistance.
If you provide your friend with a Form I-864, and your friend ends up receiving any benefits from a means-tested government assistance program (i.e., relying on the government for assistance), you will be liable for fines and possibly even a civil lawsuit which will require you to repay the government.
Your commitment to sponsor your friend financially will last until they become a U.S. citizen through naturalization or until they have paid into Social Security for at least 40 quarters (being about 10 years), whichever happens first.
As long as you ensure your friend does not receive any benefits from any means-tested government assistance programs, you’ll be safe. But which types of assistance should your friend steer away from exactly?
Which Public Benefits are Immigrants Prohibited from Accessing?
The following means-tested public benefits programs are prohibited for immigrants:
- Supplement Security Income (SSI)
- State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
- Food stamps
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
If your friend participates in any one of these programs, it will result in direct financial liability for you.
Which Public Benefits Can Immigrants Utilize?
There are some government assistance programs your friend will be able to utilize without it resulting in liability for you:
- Emergency Medicaid
- Head Start Programs
- Means-tested programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
- Job Training Partnership Act programs
- Short-term, non-cash emergency relief
- Immunizations, testing, and treatment for infectious diseases
- Certain forms of foster-care or adoption assistance under the Social Security Act
- Student assistance under the Higher Education Act and the Public Health Service Act
- Services under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts.
How to Sponsor an Immigrant Friend
Becoming a friend’s financial sponsor for immigration is relatively straightforward. You must:
- Meet the income requirements for sponsoring a friend
- Complete Form Form I-864
Income Requirements for Sponsoring a Friend
Before you can financially sponsor your friend, you will need to show you meet the requirements of being an eligible sponsor.
Firstly, your household income must be more than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. The following are guidelines provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
|Size of Household||Minimum Income Required|
|Household of two||$20,575|
|Household of three||$25,975|
|Household of four||$31,375|
|Household of five||$36,775|
|Household of six||$42,175|
|Household of seven||$47,575|
|Household of eight||$52,975|
|For each additional household member, add $5,400|
Your “household” will include yourself, your dependents (spouse and child), any relatives that may be living with you, and the friends you are planning to sponsor. For example, if you and your spouse have one child and you are sponsoring one friend, you would be a household of four for the above purposes.
If you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, however, you will have a little extra leeway. The USCIS will then only require your income to be on the U.S. poverty line (so 100% of the U.S. poverty line). There will not be a 25% premium applicable.
If you don’t meet the above income requirements, you will, unfortunately, not be able to financially sponsor your friend for immigration.
How to File Form I-864
Filing Form I-864 is easy. After you’ve completed all the sections, you must sign the form in the presence of a notary public, so the affidavit is notarized. Get a printed copy of your most recent Form W-2 and federal income tax return and include it with your Form I-864. This is to verify your annual income and provide proof of your employment.
If you want to make your case watertight, you can also include 6 months’ pay stubs, 3 years’ tax returns, and a letter from your employer.
Also, take note of the possible additional supporting documents you will have to include if any of the following scenarios apply.
|Scenario||Additional Documents Required|
|You are self-employed||Include a copy of Schedule C, D, E, or F, from your most recent federal income tax return|
|You are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard and relying on the adjusted requirement for 100% of the U.S. poverty line||Include proof of your active military status|
|You are using the income of other household members||Complete a separate Form I-864A for each person|
|You are using the income of household members who are not listed as dependents on your federal income tax return||Include proof of that person’s residency in your household and prove their relationship to you.|
|The immigrant is a joint-sponsor for their own petition||Include proof that their current employment will continue from the same source.|
|You rely on the fair market value of personal or household assets to qualify||Include documentation of ownership, location, date of acquisition, and value. If there is a lien or other liability against the asset, include evidence of the lien or liability.|
|You are a U.S. citizen||Include proof of your citizenship status (e.g. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or passport).|
|You are a lawful permanent resident||Include a copy of both sides of your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.|
When you’ve got all the documents together, give them to the friend you will be sponsoring. If they are in the U.S. and applying for an adjustment of status to get a green card, they can provide your documents with their application. If they are outside of the U.S. when applying, they can provide your documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they are doing their visa interview.
- How Do I Speak to a Live Person at USCIS?
- How Many Citizenships Can You Have?
- How Do I Know Which USCIS Service Center?
- How Do I Know If USCIS Received My Application?
- What “Country of Residence” and How to Know Yours When on a Visa
- How to Check Dropbox Eligibility with the App
Need a Loan? Get One in 3 Simple Steps
If you are considering applying for a personal loan, just follow these 3 simple steps.
Apply online for the loan amount you need. Submit the required documentation and provide your best possible application. Stronger applications get better loan offers.
If your application meets the eligibility criteria, the lender will contact you with regard to your application. Provide any additional information if required. Soon you’ll have your loan offer. Some lenders send a promissory note with your loan offer. Sign and return that note if you wish to accept the loan offer.
The loan then gets disbursed into your U.S. bank account within a reasonable number of days (some lenders will be as quick as 2-3 business days). Now you need to set up your repayment method. You can choose an autopay method online to help you pay on time every month.
Stilt provides loans to international students and working professionals in the U.S. (F-1, OPT, H-1B, O-1, L-1, TN visa holders) at rates lower than any other lender. Stilt is committed to helping immigrants build a better financial future.
We take a holistic underwriting approach to determine your interest rates and make sure you get the lowest rate possible.
Learn what others are saying about us on Google, Yelp, and Facebook or visit us at https://www.stilt.com. If you have any questions, send us an email at [email protected]