The Immigration Act allows United States citizens or permanent residents to petition for permanent residence for certain qualifying family members.

If the petition is for a parent, then the U.S. citizen must be a son or daughter over the age of 21 years. 

TO IMMIGRATE OR NOT TO IMMIGRATE, THAT IS THE QUESTION? 
THE DILEMMA OF SPONSORING AGING PARENTS, AND THE NEW
AFFIDAVIT OF SUPPORT

I am often asked whether naturalized citizens should petition for permanent residence for their aging parents living in foreign countries. 

There is usually both a need and a desire to have one's parents move to the United States. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is often confounding. 

While you may be happy in the United States, the change could be perplexing to aging parents.  Their friends, sports clubs and charities all disappear. Institutions  are no longer called by their familiar names. 

In foreign countries, parents drive their cars to their bridge clubs and other destinations. On the other hand, having to drive on major freeways often reduces an aging immigrant parent to pedestrian status. 

This drowning feeling of unfamiliarity can be bewildering to a parent who may feel like a fish out of water. While your intention in petitioning for your parents was to give them love, comfort and security, relocating to the United States can create an overwhelming sense of insecurity for them.

Another important consideration is the cost involved. Medical insurance in the United States is exorbitant. Very often, only those people who have group plans through their own businesses are able to sponsor their parents. 

In addition,the Immigration Service now requires a new Affidavit of Support.  In the past, people signed these affidavits but were never held liable for the cost of services provided to their parents by government agencies.

The provisions of the new immigration regulations which took affect on December 19, 1997 require an affidavit of support to be signed by a sponsor.  It is a legally enforceable contract between the sponsor and the federal government for the benefit of the sponsored immigrant and of any federal, state or local government agency or private entity that provides the sponsored immigrant with any means-tested public benefit. 

By executing the affidavit of support, the sponsor agrees to provide the financial support necessary to maintain the sponsored immigrant at an income that is at least one-hundred and twenty-five percent (125%) of the federal poverty line (see below), unless the obligation has terminated. 

The sponsor also agrees to reimburse any agencies which provide means-tested public benefits to a sponsored immigrant.  The sponsor must, under civil penalty, notify the service and the state(s) in which the sponsored immigrant(s) resides of any change of the sponsor's address. 

Should the sponsored immigrant obtain any means-tested public benefit, with certain exceptions, the agency that provided that means-tested public benefit may, after first making a written request for reimbursement, sue the sponsor in federal or state court to recover the costs of the means-tested public benefits, including costs of collection and legal fees that have not been reimbursed. 

Under the new regulations the sponsor's obligation terminates upon the sponsored immigrant's naturalization or when the sponsored immigrant has worked or can be credited with forty qualifying quarters of work.  The rules provide that the sponsor's obligation terminates if the sponsor or the sponsored immigrant dies, or when the sponsored immigrant ceases to hold permanent resident status and has departed the United States. 

Termination of the support obligation does not relieve the sponsor, or the sponsor's estate, of any liability for reimbursement that accrued before the termination of this obligation.

While there may have been many people who have relied on state or federal government sponsored benefits in the past, this is no longer possible and it will be necessary to consider the financial implications of sponsoring a parent more closely in the future.

                                                                                   

2002 POVERTY GUIDELINES
For 48 Contiguous States as Published in the
Federal Register

 

No. Of Household Members

125% of Poverty

(including Sponsor)

Income

2

$15,150.00

3

$19,075.00

4

$23,000.00

5

$26,925.00

6

$30,850.00

7

$34,775.00

8

$38,700.00

(add $3,925 for each additional person)

 

                                                                                   

INFORMATION FOR THE AGING

The new Affidavit of Support requires sponsors of aging parents and other beneficiaries to reimburse agencies which provide means-tested public benefits to a sponsored immigrant.  It is therefore essential to have information on senior life in the United States. 

 

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