On May 23, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. As part of USCIS’ implementation of this memorandum, USCIS officers will now be required to remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities under existing law and regulations. This new Memorandum is part of the President’s directive to enforce the public charge ground of inadmissibility.
As background, most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, when they apply for status as a lawful permanent resident. The individual executing the affidavit of support, whether sponsor, substitute sponsor, or joint sponsor, agrees to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the intending immigrant who applies for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident.
Since Dec. 19, 1997, federal law has required an immigrant’s sponsor to reimburse any benefit granting entity in the event the sponsored immigrant applies for or receives means-tested public benefits. The law also requires that, if a benefit-granting entity is notified that a sponsored immigrant is receiving a means-tested public benefit, the benefit-granting entity request reimbursement from the sponsor(s). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 states that when an individual with an affidavit of support applies for a federal means-tested benefit, the income and resources of the sponsor and the sponsor’s spouse are deemed to be income and resources when determining the immigrant’s eligibility for the benefit.