The Law Dictionary

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How Does Immigration Sponsorship Work?

Immigration sponsorship can be provided by family members or companies, depending on the type of visa being received. Certain visas require sponsorship in order to be deemed valid by the USCIS. In these cases, the sponsor acts as a guarantor that the individual being sponsored has good intentions and plans on holding down a job, supporting a family and integrating into U.S. society.

Family Sponsor Requirements

The sponsor for a family visa must be a United States citizen or hold a Green Card. There are two types of family sponsors: immediate relatives and non-immediate family members.

Immediate relatives include spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age and parents. This category is used by people seeking to bring their parents, spouses and minor children over to the United States. Non-immediate family members include siblings, married children and unmarried children over 21 years of age. Grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts may not immigrate through family sponsorship.

The process is expedited for immediate relatives, but the sponsor must still prove viable income and maintain a stable enough lifestyle to maintain a steady relationship with the United States Customs and Immigration Services agency over the several years it will take for the immigrant to receive his or her own Green Card. They must also continually vouch for the immigrant’s reputation as well as maintain a consistent relationship with the immigrant verifiable by law. Sponsors must also maintain clean criminal records.

Work Sponsorship Requirements

In order to sponsor an immigrant to come to the United States, a company must be registered with the United States and have a clean criminal record. It must show proof that it intends to employ the immigrant as a full-time worker and pay him or her a living, average wage according to the field in which the immigrant will be employed. This is generally accepted to be the state minimum wage.

Additionally, the company will have to fill out a variety of forms and may need to pay a fee to the U.S. Government in order to sponsor an incoming worker. These fees can be in excess of $2,000 per worker for the initial visa sponsorship and may even exceed $10,000 over the course of the entire Green Card sponsorship application. If the current employee has an H-1B visa, an H-1B visa transfer is needed for a position with a new company.

Forms and Responsibilities

Whether filing for family or employer-based sponsorship, the process involves a lot of responsibility with the USCIS. It begins with filing paperwork, and over the course of the following 2-3 years, a company or family member will need to fill out paperwork, pay fees and help the USCIS sure that the immigrant is conducting himself or herself lawfully.

What are Visa Letters of Invitation?

Visa letters of invitation are written by people from one country for friends, family, business associates, or students in another country. The purpose of a visa letter of invitation is to assist the visiting party in obtaining their visa. Your letter is mailed to your guest. He or she will present the letter of invitation when they go apply for their visa.

Each country will have their own visa and letter of invitation requirements for admission to its country. The country may have a preferred format or a specific document for the letter of invitation. Since each country has their own regulations, the visiting party should consult the embassy of the country they wish to visit. Generally, it is the visitor who must take responsibility for fulfilling all visa requirements to enter another country.

People who host visitors from another country are referred to as sponsors. Sponsors in the United States have to provide documentation about them when they write a letter of invitation. The letter needs to include the sponsor’s name, address, and telephone number, date of birth, occupation, citizen status, and proof of citizenship. Copies of a passport or birth certificate are accepted as proof.

In the United States, sponsors need to provide the name of the visitors, what the purpose of the visit is, relationship to the visitors, length of stay, dates of travel, the visitor’s address, telephone number, and date of birth. In addition, the embassy wants to know how the visitors’ trip will be financed.

If the sponsor is paying for the travel expenses, the sponsor must provide proof of income to support the visitors. Sponsors in the United States need to complete the I-134 form titled Affidavit of Support. The embassy may ask for any or all of the following: A copy of bank statements, pay check stubs, a letter from the sponsor’s employer, value of real estate, and value of life insurance.

Sponsors can contact the U.S. Embassy to make sure they are providing sufficient information. Visitors or sponsors need to check with the embassy to find out the current wait time for visas to ensure the visitors have enough time to receive their visa before departing for the United States.