What is an affidavit of support?
When someone applies for a family based green card they to insure they will not become a public charge – a burden on the United States government. This generally means that the petitioner who is the US citizen or a green card holding relative who is filing for the intended immigrant, has funds sufficient to support himself or herself and his, or her immediate family plus the intending immigrant. The income that this sponsor must have is based on the poverty guidelines, which are essentially a pretty low number. The problem can sometimes be that the amount of income can add up if the sponsoring relative has a number of dependents already, and is not earning a substantial amount of money.
Under the last administration, the requirement to avoid becoming a public charge amplified and was utilized to block immigration generally. That administration created a burdensome process, which included a very burdensome form, as well as a requirement for a great deal of supporting documents. Thankfully this absurd requirement requirement has been eliminated by the current administration.
That said if the petitioner does not have the income to support himself or herself and his immediate family, plus the intending immigrant, there are some alternate alternative solutions. The first and most common solution is to find a joint sponsor. This can be anyone who makes enough money to bring the total income above that required by the USCIS. That individual need not be related in any way to the intending immigrant. The joint sponsor does need to be either a US citizen or a green card holder. Other options can be a bit more difficult. Another alternative is if at the intending immigrant has lived in the United States for at least 10 years and during that time can show that he or she have a legally made enough money, legally meaning pursuant to a valid US work permit or authorization, to support themselves pursuant to the poverty guidelines. Another possibility is to show a sufficient means of support through assets. This can be a bit difficult and is usually a last resort. The best method is to do your best to find cosponsor or joint sponsor who is willing to take on the responsibility. The responsibility is generally minimal. That said, there is a slight risk to anyone who signs an affidavit of support. They may be called upon to provide resources necessary for the intending immigrant. The instance where this seems to be most common is in the in the case of divorce, and quite honestly if the intending immigrant is savvy enough or has spoken to an attorney, who might advise them that they do have a right to request a payment from the sponsor based on the promises made in the affidavit of support.
The affidavit of support can seem like an intimidating part of the process but ultimately it is by and large merely a formality.