Sponsoring a foreign national is a significant decision that can have a powerful positive impact on the immigrant’s life. However, this legal obligation involves various government agencies, documentation, legal requirements, and worst of all—tax records. As a result, it can be challenging for an individual to navigate without the assistance of a seasoned family immigration attorney. Unfortunately for everyone involved, a sponsor is required in most common Green Card applications

Although a Green Card does not grant citizenship, it does offer protection under federal and local laws, allows the holder to reside and work anywhere in the U.S., and is required to undergo naturalization to become a citizen. A lawyer from our firm can provide invaluable guidance and support to both the sponsor and the foreign national throughout the Green Card process. From determining eligibility to preparing and submitting the necessary paperwork and applications, a dedicated attorney is here to help you with sponsoring an immigrant in Boston.

What Is a Sponsor?

People often use the word “sponsor” for the person who petitions for a green card for another person, and the “petitioner” is usually also the “sponsor.” But technically, the sponsor(s) are the person(s) who vouches to financially support an immigrant who otherwise might have to resort to public assistance. The sponsors file sworn affidavits on the immigrant’s behalf, which the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves or denies. To become a sponsor, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Live in the United States or its territories and have proof
  • Show proof of minimum income of 125 percent above the federal poverty level
  • Execute Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Form I-864 is a serious agreement between immigrants, their sponsors, and the federal government that speaks to the heart of what sponsorship is. The government can sue sponsors for reimbursement if immigrants receive any public benefits, and immigrants can sue sponsors to ensure their income remains at 125 percent above the poverty level. This can be problematic if, for instance, one spouse sponsors the other, but the marriage ends in an acrimonious divorce. The sponsoring spouse would still have to support the foreign national. Consult an attorney from our firm to map out a plan for sponsoring an immigrant in Boston.

How Long is a Sponsor Responsible for a Foreign National?

Sponsorship does not last indefinitely. Once the immigrant becomes a naturalized citizen, earns 40 work quarters under Social Security, dies, or moves out of the U.S., sponsors are absolved of their responsibilities. While acting as a sponsor, other rules apply. Sponsors must update USCIS if they move from the address on file, and failure to do so could result in a fine of between $2,000 and $5,000. To learn more about the responsibilities associated with sponsorship, schedule a consultation with a Boston immigration attorney from our firm.

Who Qualifies as a Sponsor?

Foreign nationals who are immediate relatives of American citizens, including spouses, unmarried children younger than 21, and parents, usually do not have to wait for visas. U.S. citizens can also sponsor children who are unmarried adults, married children, and siblings. Lawful permanent residents can sponsor their spouses and unmarried adult children.

An employer can sponsor immigrants by obtaining a U.S. Department of Labor certificate and offering employment. The jobs cannot negatively impact U.S. citizens’ wages or working conditions. As a Boston attorney can further explain, the EB-1 first preference visa is available for employers to sponsor immigrants with outstanding talents in science, business, arts, and education.


A U.S. citizen or Green Card holder can sponsor immediate family, family preference, or prospective employees, but they can also co-sponsor foreign nationals unrelated to them. One sponsor must be related, but a co-sponsor does not have to be. Combining forces is a way to further support an immigrant’s journey. Co-sponsors cannot reside at the same address and must meet the financial qualifications. Co-sponsors must fill out Form I-864 and have the same financial liability for the immigrant in the United States.

Our Attorneys Can Help You Sponsor an Immigrant in Boston

You are part of an immigrant’s journey if you sponsor them as a family member, employer, or co-sponsor. We can guide you through the process and ensure you understand the USCIS requirements and forms, including your obligations after filing Form I-864. Sponsoring an immigrant in Boston can be a rewarding experience, and our immigration lawyers are here to ensure it is. Do not hesitate to contact our firm if you have any further questions.