We started 2023 with an announcement from US immigration that they are proposing fee hikes for several immigration services.
There is a 60-day period for public comment and then the US Government will likely make decisions on the proposals. The last increase was in 2016.
Fees facing possible increases include adjustment of status, naturalisation and work permits.
Usually, when fee increases are proposed, persons try to submit their documents before the new fees become effective. While that is a good idea, remember that accuracy and ensuring that you submit everything that is needed or was requested are very important.
Most family-based immigration applications require an affidavit of support. Adjustment of status applications require this affidavit. This affidavit is really a document that is a contract between the sponsor and the US government.
It is an agreement by the sponsor that he or she will be financially responsible for the beneficiary for five years after the arrival of the beneficiary in the USA. The sponsor has to show, by the production of his or her tax documents, that they have been meeting their tax obligations for the previous three years.
They also have to provide proof of income, whether through employment, self-employment or otherwise.
They also must meet the poverty guideline threshold, which changes periodically. The rule of thumb is that the sponsor must be at the threshold or above it in order to be recognised as a sponsor.
So be prepared and start early.
Many persons are unaware of the fact the petitioner must submit an affidavit of support regardless of his or her income or lack thereof.
The petitioner is the person making an application on behalf of the beneficiary. The immigration law allows for someone else in the household or outside the household to also submit an affidavit. This person is called a co-sponsor or a joint sponsor. The law also allows the beneficiary to submit an affidavit in certain circumstances.
Every co-sponsor must meet the requirements. Therefore, they must have paid their taxes for the past three years or have formal arrangements in place with the Internal Revenue Service; they must provide their proof of income; they must have an income at or above the required poverty guideline threshold.
he income being reported must have the necessary documentation to support it.
Importantly, too, a co-sponsor does not need to be a close relative. So, sometimes the petitioner asks either a family member or a friend to be a co-sponsor and that person agrees but later begins to show reluctance.
An example is where they say they don’t want to share their social security number or they don’t want to share their income information.
If such situations begin to happen, find a new co-sponsor.
The immigration authorities will reject an affidavit of support without these crucial pieces of information and you will be requested to submit additional information.
So, don’ t let your petition be delayed because of a problem with the affidavit of support.
*This article does not constitute legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Nadine C Atkinson-Flowers is admitted to practice in the USA and Jamaica. Her US practice is in the area of immigration, while her Jamaican practice areas include immigration and general legal consultancy. She has been an attorney for over 15 years in Jamaica and has written articles for several legal publications. She is passionate about access to justice issues and volunteers with several legal, business, children and community service organisations in Jamaica and the US. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org