Does a family petition require a letter of support?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a question from a low-income reader who wants to emigrate to her husband.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am a U.S. citizen and I am petitioning for my husband. He entered the United States legally on a fiancé visa in August of this year. We were married before the 90 days that immigration law dictates. My husband is now applying for permanent residency and filed an application for adjustment of status.

The USCIS wrote us to ask for a letter of support from a co-sponsor because I am earning approximately $7,000 per year. They say I have to prove that my husband will not be a public charge in the United States. I have never asked the Government for assistance since I have been here and my husband and I do not plan to be a public charge. Can the Government deny my husband's adjustment of status application and deport him because I am low income? -Leticia

Leticia, if you cannot demonstrate that you have the income or assets required by law to support your spouse, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may deny your application for adjustment of status. However, the government allows you to have a financial co-sponsor to meet the requirement.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that most people who immigrate to this country on the basis of a family petition, and some employment cases, must have a "financial sponsor" - a person who is financially responsible for that person.

With the Letter of Support, an immigrant's sponsor swears that he or she will provide adequate financial support for his or her livelihood and commits to preventing the immigrant from becoming a public charge after entering the United States.

This commitment is established through the Form I-864, Affidavit of Financial Sponsorship Under Section 213A of the INAThe Affidavit of Support, commonly called an Affidavit of Support, is a legal contract between the person sponsoring an immigrant and the U.S. Government. This document is a legal contract between the person sponsoring an immigrant and the U.S. Government.

The federal government will not approve the case if a Letter of Support is not submitted. This is a requirement that cannot be avoided.

The sponsor must have a certain annual income or a minimum of assets above the U.S. poverty level to demonstrate that he or she can support his or her household.

The Form I-864P, Poverty Guidelinesdetails the income requirements for a sponsor. For example, the annual income requirement for a sponsor who is not in the military, resides in one of the states or territories of the United States, except Alaska and Hawaii, and has a nuclear family of two, including the immigrant he or she is sponsoring, is $19.662.

Leticia, you would not be able to meet the requirements of the support letter because you are only earning $$7,000 per year - far less than the $$19,662 required by law.

I recommend that you find a co-sponsor to help them. The person must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have the annual income or assets required by immigration law.

If you cannot find a co-sponsor, your husband's adjustment of status application will be denied. USCIS may then refer your husband's case to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to begin deportation proceedings against him.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. No guarantees or predictions can be made as to what the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo will be. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.