This article is a specialized article regarding the I-864 Affidavit of Support, unless you have signed this document as part of the immigration process, this will likely not apply to your situation. Immigration laws often change rapidly, so make sure to speak to an attorney about the current laws and whether this information is still accurate.
What is it? When an American citizen decides to "sponsor" their fiance or spouse to become a green card holder, they must agree to sign an Affidavit of Support. This document guarantees to the government that, even if the marriage is short and ends in divorce, they will be responsible for supporting their spouse for up to 10 years, their ex-spouse has worked for 10 quarters OR their ex-spouse becomes a United Stated Citizen.
What does it do? This document requires the sponsoring spouse to show that they have the means to support their new spouse, even if they divorce. The goal is to make sure the new person will not become dependent upon the government for public assistance.
How does it work? If you have signed this document as part of the immigration process, you have essentially guaranteed spousal support to your spouse if needed. Your spouse can sue you for the money in divorce court or through the federal government immigration system.
Can I get out of this? No. Be very wary of signing an Affidavit of Support or allowing any of your friends or relatives to co-sign it with you! If you have friends or relatives co-sign this Affidavit, that makes THEM liable to support your spouse! Even if your marriage does not last or is over very quickly, this agreement is binding.
How does Divorce Court handle this? There are a variety of ways a divorce case can handle this issue. Some Courts have seen this Affidavit as a "contract" entered into and will enforce it in the Circuit Court. Other Courts will treat it as an issue for the Federal Government to deal with. Note that under the revised form (dated 9/19/2011), a beneficiary must achieve lawful permanent resident status in order to sue in Federal Court under this form. It is unlikely a Divorce Judge will find that a marriage scam or fraud will render this agreement unenforceable.
If you are facing this issue in your divorce, make sure to discuss this issue with an attorney that has handled this kind of situation!
Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles cases in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and all surrounding counties, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471