Family sponsorship is one of the most common ways a foreign national can become a permanent resident, or receive a Green Card. The United States allows U.S. citizens or permanent residents to sponsor family members that include children, parents, spouses and siblings – and bring them into the country.
For more information on the specific visas, please see my article on Path to U.S. Citizenship.
Obtaining a visa through family sponsorship will require the sponsoring family member to complete an affidavit of support, which is a declaration of intent to financially support the immigrant family member. An affidavit of support is required because the Immigration and Nationality Act grants the Attorney General the power to deny entrance into the United States if the individual “is likely at any time to become a public charge.” In another context, a sponsoring employer may also be required to submit an affidavit of support for a foreign national if the sponsored foreign national, or the prospective employee, is related to the employer or holds a 5% or more in ownership interest in the entity that filed the visa petition.
Therefore, whether applying to come to the United States or if already here, converting a temporary visa into permanent resident status, a foreign national must demonstrate they will not become a public charge through the filing of an affidavit of support.
What is a Public Charge?
A public charge is an individual who is unable to support himself or herself without financial support from the government in the form of public cash or an individual who is expected to need long-term care facilities.