Family-based immigration allows non-U.S. citizens to petition to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders). Family-based immigration is also one of the most common paths for obtaining a green card. The Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) offers a limited number of immigrant visas each year.
However, marriages end. When they do, many people have questions regarding how divorce impacts their visas or if they can file for divorce while they are in the application process. These are valid concerns. ZafiroLaw can answer these questions after we understand where you are in the immigration process and your marital situation. Today, we are going to explain how an Affidavit of Support is affected by divorce.
What is an Affidavit of Support?
If you are a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, you can petition for your spouse to obtain a green card or permanent resident status. As the petitioner/ sponsor, the INA requires you to sign an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). It is a legal contract between you and the U.S. government, and by signing it, you declare that you will financially support your spouse (or the person you are sponsoring). The sponsor must keep the spouse at 125% above the federal poverty level. This number drops to 100% if the sponsor is an active-duty military member.
Why does the INA require this? Because it guarantees that the government will not lose money if your spouse needs means-tested public benefits. These include:
- Supplemental Social Security Income
- Food stamps
If the government provides these, you are legally obligated to repay the government because you signed the Affidavit of Support which got triggered as soon as your spouse became a legal permanent resident.
What Happens If We Divorce?
A divorce doesn’t terminate your obligation. Currently, 125% of the federal poverty level equates to more than $15,500 annually for one person. You must also understand that these can be extremely difficult to get out of. However, there are a few scenarios in which you will no longer be required to provide this support to your spouse:
- Your spouse leaves the U.S. because they are no longer a lawful permanent resident
- They pass away
- They become a U.S. citizen
- They earn 10 years (40 quarters) of Social Security credits
Contact an Attorney Who Understands Family Law & Immigration
At ZafiroLaw, we are empathetic to the challenges that immigrants and non-immigrants face when coming to the United States. We have extensive experience handling matters that pertain to both immigration and family law. If you have any additional questions about how a divorce could impact your immigration status or need to speak to an attorney about the ramifications of signing an Affidavit of Support, contact ZafiroLaw to schedule your consultation.