Petitioning for a family member’s permanent residency in the U.S. involves proving that they won’t become a public charge. This responsibility falls to the sponsor through Form I-864: Affidavit of Support. Understanding the nuances of this requirement is crucial for a successful application.
To be eligible as a sponsor or a joint sponsor, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident: This ensures a legal and stable connection to the country.
- Be at least 18 years old: This age requirement is in place to ensure maturity and financial responsibility.
- Have a domicile in the United States: The concept of “domicile” is pivotal and often the most challenging to prove. It means having a residence in the U.S. that you intend to maintain indefinitely.
Domicile: The Heart of Sponsorship
Living in the U.S. typically satisfies the domicile requirement. However, if you, as a petitioner or sponsor, live abroad, you must demonstrate an intention to re-establish domicile in the U.S. before or concurrently with the admission of the family member. This can be proven by:
- Securing U.S. employment.
- Enrolling children in U.S. schools.
- Selling overseas properties.
- Setting up a U.S. mailing address.
- Entering into a rent or mortgage agreement in the U.S.
- Actively maintaining and using U.S. bank accounts.
Critical Points on Joint Sponsorship
If a petitioner cannot fulfill the domicile requirement, appointing a joint sponsor cannot rectify this shortfall. This scenario often leads to the rejection of the green card application. Therefore, meeting the domicile criterion is non-negotiable for successful sponsorship.
Form I-864, the Affidavit of Support, plays a crucial role in family-based green card applications, with domicile being a key factor for sponsors. It’s imperative to understand and meet these requirements to avoid complications in the petition process. For complex situations, especially regarding domicile, consulting with an immigration expert is advisable for guidance and ensuring compliance with USCIS standards.