How Does Immigration Sponsorship Work?

By Gigi Starr
Immigration Sponsorship Work

2007 BostonBill / Creative Commons

What is Immigration Sponsorship?

A person interested in immigrating to the United States on a temporary or permanent basis may require a sponsor in order for visa approval. This sponsor can take the form of an individual (common in family cases) or a corporation (used for employee visas).

The sponsor acts as a "guarantor," vouching for the foreign party's good behavior, financial viability and honest intentions while on American soil. For this reason, the United States State Department has guidelines and requirements that a sponsor must fulfill, as well as payment of fees, in order to qualify.

Sponsorship for Family Immigration

A family sponsor must be a United States citizen or Green Card holder. There are two classes of relation which play a large part in dictating the waiting period for immigration.

Immediate relatives include a spouse, unmarried child under 21 years old, or parent. This class is the one used for adoptions or marriage to a foreign citizen. Non-immediate relatives include siblings, married children and children over 21. There is a longer waiting period for non-immediate family processing.

In the case of grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, there is no sponsorship option available by a citizen.

In all cases, the sponsor must prove viable income, vouch for the immigrant's reputation and be the government's "link" to the foreign citizen. Since the process of immigration can take several years, the relationship must be stable and tangible enough to be proven in a court of law by documentation, sharing of expenses and other verification methods.

Business Sponsorships

John J. Gallini, a writer for business law firm Morse, Barnes-Brown and Pendleton, notes that business sponsorship can be time-consuming and costly. To sponsor, a company must show proof that the individual has full-time employment, and that they'll be paying a living, average wage for the task. There are not only forms guaranteeing the traveler's viability, but also agreements reached regarding payment of the sometimes high fees connected with sponsorship.

Gallini states, "Filing fees for an initial H-1B sponsorship can be as high as $2,190. In the immigrant visa (Green Card) sponsorship process total costs can easily exceed $10,000, due to recruitment costs and CIS filing fees (particularly where additional family members are included)." Salary for H-1B visa holders must be calculated after subtracting costs for legal counsel (if any); in addition, "the [Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS)] rules state that the company must pay the H-1B user fees (either $750 or $1,500 depending on company size) and H-1B filing fees ($190)."

It's important to hash out guidelines before anything is done. How long will the employee have to work for the company before Green Card sponsorship? The expense of taking the next step requires that all parties be in agreement pertaining to performance and expectations.

About the Author

Gigi Starr is a freelance fashion writer. She previously served as the blog editor for a major online fashion blog and has more than a decade of backstage experience in the beauty and high fashion industries. She has worked for businesses like an internationally renowned theatrical touring company and events such as the Mercedes-Benz N.Y.C. Fashion Week.