If you have married someone from outside the country, you may already know that U.S. immigration law allows citizens to sponsor their foreign spouses for legal permanent residency. You may not realize, though, that you must submit an affidavit of support on behalf of the husband or wife you want to sponsor.
The affidavit of support ensures your spouse will not become a public charge after receiving his or her green card. When you submit the affidavit, you agree to reimburse the government for any means-tested public funds your husband or wife receives.
Before submitting an affidavit of support on behalf of your spouse, you must be certain you meet the minimum income threshold. Specifically, your income must be at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines that apply to your household size.
There is a notable exception to this requirement, however. If you serve in the U.S. military, you only must have an income that at least equals the applicable poverty guidelines.
If you simply do not make enough money to file an affidavit of support, you may not be entirely out of luck. That is, you may be able to find a joint sponsor who is willing to file an affidavit of support alongside yours.
Joint sponsors have the same legal obligations as primary sponsors.
This means the joint sponsor must agree to reimburse the government for any needs-based financial assistance your husband or wife receives. This obligation continues until your spouse becomes an American citizen, earns 40 work credits, dies or permanently leaves the U.S.