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Financially Sponsoring Your Relative: What’s the Process Like?

Today, the United States has the highest number of immigrants in the world. As of 2017, 40 million of the U.S. population were born in another country. Just about every country around the world is represented among U.S. immigrants.

Many immigrants usually fly to the U.S. in search of work. Once they have settled in the country and have gotten a stable job, they can choose to apply to be a permanent resident or U.S. citizens.

There are some cases when immigrants would try bringing their families in the U.S. and turn them into permanent citizens. Although it is possible, the process isn’t as easy as some people think.

Financially Sponsoring a Family Member

If you are planning to help a family member apply for a legal permanent residency in the U.S., you can help them by becoming their financial sponsor.

By becoming a financial sponsor, the government will look at your assets (like bonds, property, and savings accounts) and income. Once you’re approved to become a financial sponsor, you will be financially supporting your family member until they become U.S. citizens.

Requirements for Becoming a Financial Sponsor

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may petition to become a financial sponsor for these family members:

  • Spouse
  • Children who are single and under 21 years old
  • Sons and daughters who are married and over 21 years old
  • Parents
  • Siblings

To become a financial sponsor, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You are a permanent resident (a green card holder) or a U.S. citizen.
  • You must prove that you’re sponsoring a relative by submitting a proof of relationship (like a birth or marriage certificate).
  • You must live in the U.S. or a U.S. territory or possession (e.g., Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands)
  • Your income level must be at least 125% of the Federal poverty level. (100% if you are active-duty military personnel)

Applying to become a financial sponsor of an immigrant involves filling out a Form I-864 and submitting it to a U.S. consular or immigration officer. It should be sent just as your relative is about to apply for permanent resident status. For the process, it is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney to make sure you go through the process correctly.

Waiting for Feedback

social security and green card on white background

Once you’ve submitted the requirements, it will take some waiting before the application is processed. Typically, the USCIS prioritizes immediate relatives—like parents, spouses, and children—so these applicants receive their green cards without worrying about waiting times in green card availability.

On the other hand, preference relatives like married children, adult children, and siblings may have to wait for years applying for a green card. Also, the USCIS limits the number of green cards for preference relatives for specific countries, like China, India, and Mexico.

When you have relatives in your home country, bringing them to the U.S. can be tempting. Before you financially sponsor your relative, though, be sure that you’re prepared and eligible. Most of all, manage expectations that your relative might not get the go-signal to apply for permanent residency right away.

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