A Joint Sponsor, also known as Co-Sponsor, is an individual who agrees to sign the affidavit of support on behalf of a primary sponsor to use his or her income to help the sponsor meet the income requirements. The process is not dissimilar to a creditor who has insufficient credit utilizing a co-signer to qualify for a loan.
When a sponsor can not meet the income requirements for the affidavit of support by himself or herself, a joint sponsor may be used to meet the requirement. By signing the affidavit of support, a joint sponsor is agreeing, under penalty of law, to share legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant. If the alien ever receives welfare or other means-tested benefits, the government may come after the sponsor and joint sponsor to financially reimburse the treasury. It is important that a joint sponsor understand the magnitude of what he or she is signing.
Increased Enforcement Under President Trump
On May 23, 2019, President Trump issued an executive order on the enforcement of legal responsibilities of immigrant sponsors & joint sponsors. The memo directs relevant federal agencies to update procedures, guidance, and regulations to comply with current law and ensure that ineligible immigrants do not receive federal means-tested benefits. All joint sponsors can expect to have financial obligations to pay back any welfare that an alien they signed for receives.
Joint Sponsor Requirements
A joint sponsor can be anyone willing to share the legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant with sponsor that meets the following requirements:
- At least 18 years old
- Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (depending on the visa type, permanent residents may be excluded)
- Have a domicile in the U.S.
- Meet the minimum income requirement by himself/herself (a joint sponsor cannot combine his or her income with the sponsor to meet the income requirement)
* Unlike sponsor, joint sponsor does NOT have to be related to the intending immigrant.
Not all cases allow the use of joint sponsors. For example, K1 fiance visa applicants specifically from Philippines and Thailand do not allow joint sponsors. They do, however, allow joint sponsors for CR1 and IR1 spousal visas. It's important to contact the U.S. embassy where your interview would be to make sure they allow joint sponsor for your type of visa before applying.