If you would like to sponsor a family member or other immigrant to come to the United States, you must understand your role as a sponsor and what it entails.
As a sponsor, you will need to sign an Affidavit of Support, which is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This affidavit states that you are able to financially support the sponsored individual once they come to the United States.
Why do you have to sign an Affidavit of Support?
You will need to sign an Affidavit of Support, because the government wants to know that any immigrant you sponsor will have access to financial support in the United States. With this affidavit, you’re agreeing that by sponsoring a future household member, you will provide for them financially and, if needed, reimburse means-tested public benefits that the sponsored immigrant receives unnecessarily.
What are means-tested public benefits?
Means-tested public benefits are benefits awarded based on a person’s means. For example, someone with no or little income may qualify for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.
The Affidavit of Support that you signed states that you have the money to provide for an immigrant that you’re hosting and have sponsored to come into the United States. As a result, if that individual seeks out means-tested public benefits and does receive them, you could be held responsible for paying back those funds to the state, local, tribal or federal authorities.
This is because sponsored immigrants are not always legally able to qualify for some kinds of means-tested benefits. The agency that tests their means should know about your assets and resources as long as the immigrant is listed in your household and the affidavit is enforceable.
Plainly put, if the immigrant you sponsored is still being sponsored by you when they apply for benefits, you may end up footing the bill. Before you bring anyone into the U.S., it’s important to be sure that you do have the funds needed to prevent them from claiming public benefits that they may not be qualified to receive. If you run into trouble with this regulation, then it’s smart to look into legal options to help.