What happens when a US citizen and their spouse and child want to emigrate to the US but they have no money or assets?

My sister married a French citizen in the US 2 years ago, then moved to France with him to live. While there, they had a child, and are now hoping to all move to America to live and work as a family. My sister keeps telling me this is an easy process and that it’s just paperwork. My biggest concern is the I-864 form. Do they need to fill this out, no matter which visa they go for? I’m concerned because they don’t have any money or any assets, and I do not want my parents signing a binding agreement where they agree to sponsor them. Is there any way around this?

Asked on July 15, 2014 under Immigration Law, New York


SB Member California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no way around the affidavit of support.  Your sister, as the petitioner of her husband's petition needs to be the primary sponsor for affidavit of support purposes.  If she has no income or her income is insufficient, then she will need a joint sponsor whose income and/or assets are sufficient.  However, acting as a sponsor does not mean that the sponsor will need to support your sister and her family.  It is a contract between the joint sponsor and the government which basically states that in the event your sister's husband received federal means-tested assistance government assistance, the joint sponsor agrees to reimburse the government.

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