The I-864 Affidavit of Support: Is the Sponsor still responsible after a divorce?

Thứ Tư, 01 Tháng Tám 201200:00(Xem: 45131)
The I-864 Affidavit of Support: Is the Sponsor still responsible after a divorce?
When you sponsor an immigrant spouse, you need to promise the US government that your spouse will not become a public charge, meaning that your spouse will not get welfare from the government. This promise is contained in the I-864 Affidavit of Support.
The national average for divorces in the US is around 50%. If you divorce, are you still obligated to follow the Affidavit of Support? The 7th District Court of Appeals recently decided such a case.
An American man married a Chinese woman 19 years his junior, in China. Two years later the couple decided to move to the United States. The husband had to sign an “I-864 affidavit,” agreeing to support his wife at 125 percent of the poverty level (approximately $13,500 a year), even if they divorced. In fact, two years later, this couple did divorce.
Without considering the I-864 affidavit, the divorce court in Wisconsin ordered the husband to support his ex-wife at the rate of $500 a month if she would actively seek work by making at least four job applications a month. She did not find any work. She is a graduate of a Chinese college but her spoken English is very poor.
The husband refused to provide the $13,500 annual support specified in the I-864 Affidavit with the reason that his ex-wife wasn’t looking for work. So the wife filed suit in federal district court in Wisconsin, claiming that the support obligations of the I-864 remained in effect after the divorce.
The 7th District court decided that the support obligations of the I-864 Affidavit do continue, no matter what rights the ex-spouse might have, or not have, under Wisconsin divorce law.
The court also had to decide whether the ex-wife was required to apply for jobs and in that way become self-supporting and not reliant on the I-864. Looking at the I-864, the court saw that the sponsor’s obligations end if the immigrant dies, or if the alien spouse is employed for 40 quarters, or if the spouse becomes a US citizen. The I-864 does not require the alien spouse to look for work after the divorce.
The I-864 form requires the sponsor to “agree to provide the sponsored immigrant(s) whatever support is necessary to maintain the sponsored immigrant(s) at an income that is at least 125 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines”.
The court decided that the purpose of the I-864 was not to force immigrants to become self-sufficient. The I-864 is only meant to make sure they do not become public charges. The sponsor is the person who guarantees that the immigrant will have enough income to avoid becoming a public charge.
The support obligation that the law imposes on the sponsor is limited. The poverty-line income is meager, even at 125% of the minimum. A sponsored immigrant has therefore a strong incentive to seek employment, though there is no legal duty to find work.
The US government revised the original I-864 to make it very clear that “divorce does not terminate obligations under this Form I-864”. Thus, the District Court in Wisconsin decided in favor of the ex-wife. The husband must honor the obligations of the I-864.
The decision of this court is likely to be considered precedent for any similar cases in future, whether the marriage ends in divorce or annulment.
Q.1. What if the divorce results from the immigrant’s infidelity or abandonment or cruelty to the sponsor? Does the I-864 Affidavit still apply?
A.1. The I-864 obligations continue, no matter who is responsible for the breakup of the marriage.
Q.2. After a divorce, if US CIS denies the immigrant’s application for a permanent green card, is the I-864 still in force?
A.2. The I-864 requirements remain in effect until the immigrant leaves the US, either voluntarily or through deportation.
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