If you’re planning to petition for a foreign national family member to gain permanent residency status in the United States, one critical factor you must prove is that your relative won’t rely on public assistance or become a public charge once they are admitted into the country. This evidence is presented through the necessary Form I-864: Affidavit of Support.
Requirements for a Sponsor or Joint Sponsor
As a sponsor or a joint sponsor, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a domicile in the United States
The first two requirements are fairly straightforward. However, the concept of having a “domicile in the United States” can be a point of contention, occasionally leading to petition denials. As defined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “domicile” refers to a place where an individual has a residence that they intend to keep for the foreseeable future. There usually aren’t any problems if the petitioner/sponsor resides and works in the U.S.
Domicile Requirements and Challenges
Challenges can emerge when the petitioner/sponsor resides overseas. Despite living abroad, a petitioner may still sponsor a foreign national if they can successfully re-establish domicile in the U.S. on or before the admission of the foreign national as a green card holder. The petitioner/sponsor has to provide strong evidence supporting their intention to re-establish a U.S. domicile. This can be demonstrated by:
- Securing employment in the U.S.
- Enrolling children in U.S. schools
- Selling residences overseas
- Establishing a U.S. mailing address
- Providing proof of a rent or mortgage agreement in the U.S.
- Maintaining active U.S. bank accounts and using them regularly
Remember: If the petitioner fails to meet the domicile requirement and hence doesn’t qualify as a sponsor, a joint sponsor cannot be authorized to compensate for this insufficiency. In such a scenario, the applicant’s green card petition would face rejection.
What is the domicile requirement for an immigrant visa?
Green Cards for Family Members