You have a friend who wants to join you in the U.S. as a permanent resident. Can you help? Unfortunately, the U.S. immigration law only allows employers, relatives or fiancée to sponsor foreign nationals for a visa or green card application. You cannot petition for a foreigner’s entry into the U.S. just because you are friends with them.
However, you can still help through sponsorship. In the immigration context, sponsorship means consenting to offer financial support for an immigrant during their stay. This provision allows you to sponsor a family member, business partner, group of individuals or a friend with whom you have no blood ties.
How to sponsor a friend for immigration
You can co-sponsor a friend who has a family in the U.S. to visit the country. To do this, you will need to fill and submit an Affidavit of Support, also known as Form I-864 to the USCIS. By signing this form, you will be accepting financial responsibility for the friend who is coming to live in the U.S. It is important to understand that being a sponsor comes with long-term obligations to the government.
The nature of the Affidavit of Support may differ depending on your situation. That said, the USCIS will assess your eligibility to sponsor a friend based on the following criteria:
- You must be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must be a resident of the U.S. or any of its territories and provide proof of residency
- You must meet the financial requirement
- You must duly fill out and submit Form I-864 to the USCIS.
While you cannot petition your friend for a green card, you can still come through as their financial sponsor. However, before taking this route, it is important to understand exactly what you are getting into.