If you’re trying to bring your fiancé to the U.S. to get married, one of the things you’ll need to prove to the government is that you can support them financially once they’re here. You need to demonstrate that you—or you and a co-sponsor—make sufficient income to ensure that your fiancé won’t need to rely on government support once they arrive.
In today’s post, we outline the legal obligations that a visa sponsor—or co-sponsor—takes on.
Applying for a fiancé visa
When you apply for a fiancé (K-1) visa, you will typically have to submit form I-134. This is an affidavit of support which shows that you have sufficient income to support your fiancé during their stay. Because a fiancé visa is a nonimmigrant visa, I-134 only applies to the time before you and your fiancé get married. After that, you need to submit a new form (below).
Applying for a green card
Once married, your spouse can apply for a green card. At this stage, you—as a sponsor—must submit a new affidavit of support: form I-864. Unlike form I-134, form I-864 has many legal restrictions attached to it. As a sponsor, you are responsible for your spouse’s financial welfare until your spouse:
- Becomes a citizen,
- Has worked full time for 40 quarters (i.e., 10 years),
- Leaves the country or
What are your obligations?
When you sponsor your spouse using I-864, you agree to provide them with financial support equivalent to 125 percent of the HHS poverty guidelines. In addition, if your spouse ends up on government support—e.g., supplemental security income or food stamps—during the period that this affidavit is in effect, the government can sue you for this support money.
What if the marriage doesn’t work out?
Divorce changes nothing in the eyes of immigration authorities. When you sign the I-864, you are on the hook for your spouse’s finances for up to 10 years—even if your marriage only lasts six months.
While you may be certain your marriage will last forever, no one can predict the future. It’s important for any potential sponsor or co-sponsor to be clear about the responsibilities they’re taking on when they agree to sign an I-864 affidavit of support.