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Immigrant sponsorship requirements: how to sponsor an immigrant for citizenship or residency

If an immigrant does not have enough money to stay in the country, they can ask for help from a sponsor. The sponsor guarantees the government that the immigrant will receive financial support during their stay. Sponsors can be family members, friends, companies, or anyone else.

Sponsors have certain responsibilities. First and foremost, their financial situation must allow them to help the immigrant while still being able to provide for themselves.

How to sponsor an immigrant for citizenship or residency

Immigrant sponsorship requirements: how to sponsor an immigrant for citizenship or residency

How sponsorship helps to obtain a visa to travel abroad

Tourist visas for many countries require proof of the applicant’s financial sustainability. It is one of the main factors affecting the consulate’s decision. The applicants are usually required to provide a certificate of their employment and a bank statement.

However, not everyone has necessary funds for a trip, and that’s where the sponsorship comes in. Minors, students, non-working citizens, and pensioners can all be sponsored by their immediate family members: spouse, children, or parents. In this case, a letter from the sponsor and proof of their financial well-being is required when applying for a visa.

What does sponsorship mean for a residence permit?

In contrast to a tourist visa, a sponsor for a residence permit can only be a person who has a residence permit, a permanent residence permit, or citizenship. If a company acts as a sponsor, it must be registered in the country and be eligible for sponsorship.

In some countries, immigrants are required to have a sponsor when applying for a residence visa. For example, such a requirement is imposed by the USA and the UAE for certain categories of visas.

The migration laws of some countries allow for more than one sponsor — for example, if an immigrant wants to reunite with family and needs sponsorship to apply for a visa. This type of visa is often sponsored by family members. If the immigrant's family members do not have enough money on their own to pay for visa sponsorship, they can be co-sponsors.

Who can sponsor an immigrant?

People, organisations, or even governments can sponsor immigrants. The procedure for granting sponsorship for residence permits and citizenship is determined by the migration laws of the country.

People who want to sponsor a migrant can be anyone: a friend, a family member, an employee or even an acquaintance. However, they must be legal residents of the country: have a permanent residence permit, citizenship, or a residence permit for at least six months.

A person can act as a sponsor if they are of legal age, have no criminal record, and have a certain level of income specified in the migration law.

Organisations often sponsor employment and education or act as an inviting party at various events. In many countries, organisations have to buy a sponsorship licence or pay a state sponsorship fee if they want to act as sponsors.

Governments of different countries sponsor meetings and conferences at the governmental level. Sponsorship programs are also developed by governments for refugees. They provide refugees with housing and facilities to find work or training and pay a monthly allowance.

What liabilities arise when sponsoring an immigrant

Sponsorship involves making financial and other commitments. Different types of sponsorship have different responsibilities. For example, financial sponsorship entails financial responsibility. Sponsorship for accommodation includes the responsibility to ensure that the conditions of the immigrant's living are appropriate.

Financial sponsorship is when the sponsor assumes financial responsibility for an immigrant. A sponsor guarantees immigration officials that the immigrant will not require public assistance.

Sponsorship does not include any responsibility for the immigrant's debts. If the immigrant accumulates significant debts or declares bankruptcy, none of these actions will affect the sponsor's money or personal information. 

In a difficult situation, the sponsor is obliged to provide the immigrant with the financial means to live on a living wage. 

If the immigrant illegally receives benefits from welfare programs, the financial sponsor may be required to reimburse the national government for the benefits received. If the sponsor refuses to repay the debt, the national government can sue the sponsor. 

For example, such an obligation arises for sponsors in the US and continues until the immigrant becomes a US citizen, works in the US for 10 years or leaves the US.

There are certain programs to which the immigrant is entitled, and the sponsor is not obliged to pay for them. For example, ambulance services, testing and treatment of infectious diseases, and workplace training partnership programs. 

It is not possible to remove the sponsor's liability through bankruptcy — the sponsor is still responsible for the immigrant until the visa or sponsorship contract expires.

Even after divorce, sponsors are still financially responsible for their former spouse.

Accommodation. Sponsorship in this method only involves providing accommodation for a specified time without requiring any financial commitment on the sponsor’s part. This type of sponsorship is often used for homestay programs while studying, or for refugees.

A person who provides accommodation to an immigrant is subject to the following minimum obligations:

  1. The person living in the accommodation must have everything necessary for everyday life. 
  2. A sufficient amount of space must be provided for the accommodation.
  3. All adult members of the sponsor's household must agree to the sponsorship.

Migration authorities may check the sponsor's accommodation to ensure that the immigrant's living conditions are suitable. All adult family members of the sponsor are also checked for criminal offences.

Sponsorship cannot be linked to a commitment to work in return for accommodation. The immigrant must have the right to work in the country on a valid residence permit and must have a work contract.

The period of validity for accommodation may be stipulated in a sponsorship contract, agreement, letter, or legislation. 

If the sponsor wants to terminate their housing obligation before the immigrant arrives, they must inform the migration authorities so that a new sponsor can be found.

Following the guest's arrival, the sponsor should also inform the immigration authorities of the withdrawal of sponsorship, giving at least two months' notice to the immigrant.

How to sponsor an immigrant for aсcomodation
The accommodation sponsorship program operates in the UK. Sponsors provide housing for people fleeing Ukraine as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. They can offer a spare room or home for at least 6 months

Sponsoring a family member for a residence permit or citizenship

The sponsorship of family members is mainly required in order to obtain an immigration visa on the basis of family reunification.

Citizens and permanent residence permit holders are entitled to apply for visas and permanent residence permits on behalf of their immediate family members.

In some countries, such sponsorship is not just an option but a prerequisite. To sponsor a family member's application, you will need to complete a form for a foreign relative. 

This form allows the migration authorities to recognise your immediate family relationship and must be considered either before or at the same time as the individual immigrant's application.

In different countries, immigration laws define who can sponsor immigrants. Sponsors are usually spouses, children, parents or partners. The applicant's siblings are less common.

The following factors are taken into account when assessing eligibility for sponsorship:

  1. The sponsor's ability to financially support the family member for the duration of the intended stay in the state without relying on public funds.
  2. The closeness and genuineness of the relationship between the sponsor and the immigrant.
  3. Not sponsoring someone else for a certain time before applying for sponsorship.

When can a friend or acquaintance be a sponsor?

It is most common for friends or acquaintances of foreigners to sponsor short trips to the country.  For residence permits, a friend can sponsor refugees or co-sponsor other types of permits.

Visitor visa. Friends can sponsor visitors for short-term stays if they are the inviting party. They can apply for a visa on behalf of the guest. 

The migration authorities require the following confirmation from sponsors-friends:

  • How the sponsors are related to the person visiting them.
  • Proof that the guest will return home after the visit. For example, show that they are dependent on work or study.
  • Evidence that the visitor's travel can be paid for. An example would be a bank statement or a pay stub.
  • Confirmation that their finances can cover the guest's trip as well as their own expenses.

Refugee sponsorship. For this purpose, the sponsor can be a friend, but also any other person. In most cases, the sponsor will provide refugee accommodation. 

The immigration authorities check the sponsor and all adult family members against criminal records. The sponsor also needs to prove that the living conditions are suitable for all family members and refugees.

Co-sponsorship. For other types of residence permits, a friend may co-sponsor. The situation might arise, for instance, when an immigrant seeks to reunite with family and the family members cannot fully sponsor them.

In this case, a friend of the applicant may co-sponsor if the immigration law of the country allows for more than one sponsor.

What is sponsorship for employment?

To be able to work in another country, a foreigner needs to find an employer who is willing to hire them and agree to sponsor them.

Sponsorship by an employer means they accept the foreigner as an employee. The employer guarantees to the visa authorities of the country that the employee will become a legal resident worker. 

Employers assure foreign workers that they will work in the positions they hired them for. The employee will receive the same salary as another citizen in the same position.

The employer's visa sponsorship is a set of documents that are sent to the immigration office. The documents must have regulated forms and employment information. The cover letter should state that the employer is willing to employ the employee.

For example, in the UK, employers must obtain a sponsorship licence from the immigration office before employing a foreign worker. In other countries, it is sufficient to obtain a permit by completing government forms and paying a government fee.

The sponsoring employer has the following responsibilities

  • keep track of the immigration status of employees;
  • keep a copy of each employee's passport and current work visa;
  • track and record employee attendance;
  • keep their contact details up to date;
  • notify the immigration authorities in case of problems, e.g. if the employee stops coming to work.

For Migration Authorities to approve an employer as a sponsor, the employer must have no criminal record for immigration, fraud, and money laundering.

How to sponsor an immigrant for work: Austin, Texas is one of the best places for immigrants looking for work in the United States
Austin, Texas is named as one of the best places for immigrants looking for work in the United States. Wage and job growth, unemployment rates, labour force participation and housing affordability are taken into account for comparison with other cities

How can sponsorship help to obtain citizenship or a residence permit by investment?

Investment programs for citizenship and residency regulate who can be a sponsor and how they can pay on behalf of applicants.

Caribbean citizenship programs allow sponsors to pay for investments on behalf of the applicant. In doing so, the sponsor has an obligation to pay the Due Diligence fee. 

Individual sponsors must provide:

  • photocopies of passports;
  • criminal record certificate;
  • proof of legal income;
  • reference letter from a bank;
  • bank statements for the last year.

If the sponsor is a company, it provides corporate documents of the company, including documents confirming the shareholder's ownership interest, financial statements of the company and specifying sources of income.

European investment residence programs most often require that payment of investments and fees be made from the applicant's account. The sponsor may transfer money to the applicant's account on various grounds.

Investment citizenship and residency programs: characteristics of sponsorship

CountryCan the sponsor pay for the investment from their account?Who can be a sponsor?Features
Antigua and BarbudaYesPerson

Company
Due Diligence is paid by sponsors

Prove the legality of the sponsor's funds
DominicaYesPerson

Company's majority shareholder who owns at least 51% of the company
Due Diligence is paid by sponsors

Prove the legality of the sponsor's funds
GrenadaYesPerson

Company's sole shareholder (100% of the company)
Due Diligence is paid by sponsors

Confirm the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored person 

Prove the legality of the sponsor's funds
St LuciaYesPerson

Company's sole shareholder (100% of the company)
Due Diligence is paid by sponsors

Confirm the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored person 

Prove the legality of the sponsor's funds
St Kitts and NevisYesPerson

Company's majority shareholder who owns at least 51% of the company
Due Diligence is paid by sponsors

Prove the legality of the sponsor's funds
Cyprus Permanent ResidenceYesCompany's sole shareholder (100% of the company)The purchase of real estate will be approved if it is made on behalf of a legal entity, provided that the applicant and/or spouse are the sole shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners 

The legal entity is legally registered and located in Cyprus or any other Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area
Greece Golden VisaYesCompany's sole shareholder (100% of the company)The purchase of real estate will be approved if it is made on behalf of a legal entity, provided that the applicant and/or spouse are the sole shareholders or ultimate beneficial owners 
Spain Golden VisaYesCompanyThe company is not located offshore

A majority share of the company belongs to the main applicant

The DGCOMINVER has provided a preliminary positive business opinion 
Malta Permanent Residence

Malta citizenship
No

The sponsor may transfer funds to the main applicant's account and provide documentary evidence of this transfer, such as a deed of gift
Family members

Relatives

Business partners
The sponsor must pass the Due Diligence process, as must the main applicant

Sponsor verification fee €15,000
Portugal Golden VisaNo

Paying for the investment requires only the Portuguese bank account of the principal applicant
Person

Company
Banking matters are the only context in which sponsorship is considered 

The applicant opens a bank account in Portugal. In the form of a gift deed, the sponsor transfers funds to the citizenship applicant's account.

Frequently asked questions

What sponsorship means for a residence permit?

A sponsor provides support to visa applicants when they enter the country to obtain their visa. A sponsor for a residence permit can be either a person or an organisation.

Visa sponsorship may require submitting a petition. An individual or legal entity in the country submits the petition on behalf of the foreign national. Once the petition is approved, the foreign national can usually apply for the desired visa.

Who can sponsor an immigrant?

People, organisations, or even governments may sponsor emigrants. The procedure for granting sponsorship for residence permits and citizenship is determined by the migration laws for individual countries.

What are the liabilities associated with immigrant sponsorship?

Sponsorship involves making financial and other commitments, for example, the provision of accommodation.

In financial sponsorship, the sponsor assumes financial responsibility for the immigrant. Providing a sponsor assures immigration officials that the immigrant will not require public assistance.

Sponsorship of accommodation involves merely providing housing for a certain period without any financial commitment on the sponsor’s part. Sponsorships of this type are often used for student homestays or refugee programs.

Who is eligible for sponsorship when applying for citizenship or residence permit?

A sponsor for a residence permit or citizenship can be someone with a residence permit, a permanent residence permit or citizenship. The company must be registered in the country and be eligible for sponsorship.

How can sponsorship help you find work in another country?

Foreigners need to find an employer who will hire them and sponsor them before they can work in another country.

Employers guarantee that foreign workers will work in the positions for which they were hired. The employee will be paid the same as a citizen in the same position.

How to get citizenship by investment and sponsorship?

Investment programs for citizenship and residency regulate who can be a sponsor and how they can pay on behalf of applicants.

Caribbean citizenship programs allow sponsors to pay for investments on behalf of the applicant. In doing so, the sponsor has an obligation to pay the Due Diligence fee. 

European investment residence programs most often require that payment of investments and fees be made from the applicant’s account. The sponsor may transfer money to the applicant’s account on various grounds.

Can a person on welfare sponsor an immigrant?

Yes, you can sponsor if you are on welfare. Depending on your Social Security benefits, you may meet the financial requirements for sponsoring an immigrant. You can find a co-sponsor if you are unable to sponsor an immigrant on your own because of insufficient Social Security benefits.

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Immigrant sponsorship requirements: how to sponsor an immigrant for citizenship or residency