The Financial Intersection of Family and Immigration Law Found in Form I-864

More often than not, there is an intersection between family and immigration law. One aspect of the intersection of family and immigration law addresses the financial requirement in immigration proceedings for a petitioner to be liable for the expenses of the applicant. As family law practitioners it is crucial to know how your client can be financially affected by signing the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) that is required in an Adjustment of Status. The Affidavit of Support requires the petitioner to prove to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that their family member will not become a financial burden to the U.S. government by providing proof of income that is 125% above the Department of Homeland Security’s Poverty Guidelines.

Family law lawyers should be aware that even though a petitioning spouse may not be required to pay for alimony or spousal support in family law proceedings because the respondent does not meet the spousal support or alimony requirements, the petitioning spouse can still be financially accountable unto USCIS. As Nicole M. Whitaker states in her article “The intersection of immigration and family law”, “Divorce does not terminate a sponsor’s obligation to provide for an immigrant spouse. In fact, a sponsor must support the immigrant, even after divorce, until the immigrant either dies; becomes a citizen; has worked (or can be credited with) 40 qualifying quarters of Social Security earnings; ceases to hold permanent resident status and leaves the U.S.; or obtains new permanent resident status through deportation proceedings.” This means that if an immigrant ex-spouse fails to pay debts to social security or begins to receive financial help from the government, the petitioning ex-spouse may later on be contacted by the U.S. government to pay off that debt.