By Robert H. Gibbs
Sponsors of family members are surprised to discover that their sponsorship includes significant and long term financial obligations, even after a divorce. In order to immigrate a family member to the U.S., the citizen or permanent resident petitioner, and possibly other cosponsors, must usually submit an I-864 affidavit of support to the U.S. government. For a family of two, the support obligation to the applicant is currently about $19,387/yr.
Once the application is approved for the immigrant, the I-864 cannot be withdrawn and is enforceable by either the immigrant, or any government welfare agency. The immigrant can enforce the support requirement, less any earnings on their part, in state or federal court. A welfare agency can seek reimbursement of welfare benefits paid to the immigrant, such as SSI, food stamps, or Medicaid.