US Citizen Spouses who sponsor an alien spouse for a green card in the United States should be aware of the requirements and obligations involved with the Affidavit of Support.
Sponsors of an immigrant spouse are required, during the process of gaining legal resident status to sign an Affidavit of Support. It’s one of the numerous documents involved in the process and, as with many documents of this nature, has details that are quite easy to over look.
According to Federal law 8 U.S.C. § 1183a. Requirements for sponsor’s affidavit of support, no alien shall be accepted unless the sponsor agrees to the affidavit as a contract—
(A) in which the sponsor agrees to provide support to maintain the sponsored alien at an annual income that is not less than 125 percent of the Federal poverty line during the period in which the affidavit is enforceable;
(B) that is legally enforceable against the sponsor by the sponsored alien, the Federal Government, any State (or any political subdivision of such State), or by any other entity that provides any means-tested public benefit…
This means that as the sponsor you must be able to keep your spouse (and household) at or above 125% of the Federal U.S. Poverty Guideline.
However, nowhere in the rest of the law does it state that this responsibility can be terminated because of divorce. That’s right. The US Citizen spouse can be on the hook for supporting the alien spouse for up to 10 years or longer assuming that the alien spouse doesn’t become a citizen. The alien spouse would have to work 40 quarters (10 years) that qualify under Social Security.
These are federal documents and hold up in federal as well as state jurisdictions. This underscores the tremendous responsibility that a citizen takes on when they sponsor an alien spouse for a green card.