President Trump signed a memorandum that will direct federal agencies to create procedures to begin enforcing a law that holds Affidavit of Support sponsors responsible for certain means tested benefits obtained by their sponsored legal immigrants. The affidavit of support is a contract between the sponsor and the federal government whereby the sponsor assumes financial responsibility for the legal immigrants he/she sponsors. The sponsor does not have to provide for the legal immigrants. Instead, the sponsor must ensure that the sponsored legal immigrants do not become a public charge – meaning they do not use certain public benefits. If the legal immigrant uses such public benefits, the government may seek reimbursement from the sponsor.
It is very rare for the government to enforce the reimbursement rule. However, this memo specifically directs the federal agencies involved to create the procedures to collect from the sponsors. If the sponsors do not pay, the government will begin collection proceedings.
Furthermore, the memorandum also instructs government agencies to create procedures to consider the sponsor’s income when determining whether a legal immigrant is eligible for any means tested benefits. This will have a significant impact on any legal immigrants who may be eligible for public benefits based on their income.
The federal agencies involved are directed to provide such procedures by the end of 2019 and may implement the enforcement at that time.
For more information regarding affidavit of support sponsorship responsibilities, please contact our office for more information.