When you as an American Citizen apply to US immigration for your fiance to enter the USA to marry you, during the application process you must to demonstrate that you have adequate income or assets to prove that you are financially able to support your future spouse in order to prevent her from becoming a ward of the state. IF, you, the primary sponsor, don't have enough income to meet the requirement, then in most cases you are allowed to to ask a friend or family member to help, and become your joint-sponsor. Just like buying a car for a teenager, the joint-sponsor could 'co-sign' your loan. In this case he is financially joint-sponsoring the immigration of your fiance or spouse.
The joint-sponsor should have an acceptable reason to want to "help out", such as friendship or family ties. Joint-sponsors who might have other agendas like loan sharks, relatives of your fiance or spouse, or future employers of your foreign spouse are not good choices.
When a joint-sponsor is used his income and his household are added to yours.
For example, a college student petitioning for his fiancee, asks his father to joint-sponsor. Both the college student and the father would each complete an affidavit of support. The students household is just 2 persons, himself and his fiancee. The fathers household would be father, mother, and the two siblings still living at home. Thus the combined household would be 6 persons, and the combined income of both sponsor and joint-sponsor would also be added together..
The joint sponsor must provide proof of his income. Normally this is his most recent Federal Tax Return, 3 to 6 pay stubs showing 'Year to date' earnings, plus a letter from his employer confirming his job status, and annual pay. He must also demonstrate he is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident. For this he shows his birth certificate, US passport, or green Card.
Responsibilities of the Joint sponsor ?
Just like you the orginal sponsor, the joint sponsor will also sign a contract called the Affidavit of Support. Basically both of you are guaranteeing that IF the beneficiary (the foreign born fiance) ends up using Federal Assistance within the following 10 years, that you aand he agree to "pay the bill".
But Do be AWARE. While most consulates will accept a joint-sponsor for a Fiance Visa Application, NOT ALL DO.
For example the US consulates in Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria expect the Fiance visa sponsor to have adequate resources, on his own.
If you income is below the poverty level, and you know you will need a joint-sponsor to qualify, you should research or contact the consulate that will handle your case and double check with them what their policies are.
By Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach