Written by attorney Victor Ifeanyi Okeke

Affidavit of Support: An Overview


The purpose of the affidavit of support is chiefly to show that an intending immigrant will not become a public charge upon admission to the U.S.A.


A sponsor must be a citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). For family petitions, a sponsor is usually the person who filed the petition pursuant to which the intending immigrant seeks a visa/admission. A sponsor must also be at least 18 years old and resident in the U.S.A. Regarding relevant employment based petitions, the sponsor is the relative who filed the petition, or a relative who has a significant ownership in the business that filed the petition. A sponsor's household income must meet at least 125% of the federal poverty guideline for the sponsor's household size.

Joint Sponsor

A joint sponsor must meet all the qualifications of a sponsor, but in addition, a national may also be a joint sponsor. A joint sponsor is usually needed if the sponsor's household income is not enough to meet the threshold of the federal poverty guideline which is 125%. It is important to note that a joint sponsor must meet the poverty guidelines by himself/herself depending on his/her household size. Thus the joint sponsor cannot combine his/her income with that of the sponsor to meet the guideline.

Substitute Sponsor

A substitute sponsor may be used where the sponsor becomes deceased after the petition is approved but the Service, instead of cancelling the approval, on humanitarian basis allows the intending immigrant to provide a substitute or replacement sponsor.

Household Income

To meet the household income requirement which is mainly measured by the household size and the poverty guidelines, a sponsor may use his/her income alone, or can add his spouse's income, and anyone else's living in his household if such person is at least 18 years of age. It must be noted that the income of the intending immigrant may also be relied upon in some situations by the sponsor, but such income must be from lawful employment.

Does the Affidavit of Support Have Any Force of Law?

The affidavit of support, upon execution, and issuance of an immigrant visa, or adjudication of an adjustment application, becomes a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the government. Indeed the sponsored immigrant may institute a civil action to compel enforcement of the sponsor's obligation. Also any government entity, or private body that provides any means tested public benefit to the sponsored immigrant has a right of action.

Change of Mind

If the sponsor changes his mind and wishes to withdraw, such withdrawal must generally be done before the immigrant visa is issued to the intending immigrant.

How Long Does a Sponsor's Obligation Last?

The sponsor's obligation ends if/when any of the following happens:

  • (a) the sponsored immigrant becomes a USC;
  • (b) the sponsored immigrant dies;
  • (c) the sponsored immigrant can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work;
  • (d) the sponsored immigrant is found to have abandoned his LPR status;
  • (e) the sponsored immigrant obtains a new affidavit of support for an adjustment of status relief in removal proceedings
  • (f) if the sponsor dies.

Finally, it is worthy to note that where the sponsor is on active military duty, and the intending immigrant is such sponsor's spouse or child, the sponsor's household income only needs to meet 100% of the federal poverty guideline.

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