If you’re applying for a visa in the United States, you will probably need an advocate or a sponsor.
Whether you’re applying for a visa with support from your family or employer, there’s a lot that you need to know about visa sponsorship.
A visa sponsorship is when an organization or family member helps someone complete the paperwork to apply for a visa and start living in a new country. If you’re an Italian citizen but get a job at a startup based in California, the US employer would be responsible for sponsoring your visa. But if you’re a Colombian citizen and planning to move to New Jersey to join your family, then your most immediate family members will help you complete the application and sponsor your visa.
One of the reasons countries, and the US, in particular perform due diligence for visa applications is that they want to ensure expats, immigrants, and foreigners don't become a burden on government systems, especially social security.
In the United States, some examples of visas that required sponsorship include:
H1-B temporary work
Green cards (permanent residency)
K-1 visa (petitioner must submit Form 1-134, Affidavit of Support, to prove that they are financially sponsoring the applicant)
Fiance visa (US Citizen files form I-129F, Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS)
F-1 visa (education)
The following visa types require some form of employee sponsorship. These will allow a foreign nationals to become a legal working resident.
Other visas, such as the B-2 tourist visa, only require that the applicant has a healthy financial background. In most cases, however, the institution or family member abroad needs to submit a petition before the newcomer can apply for the visa.
In most cases, foreign workers planning to spend more than 3 months in a foreign country will need a visa. However, visa requirements vary from country to country, depending on the applicant’s nationality and the purpose of his/her visit.
Refugees and those seeking political asylum are often exempt from the visa requirements. Those with green cards or other immigrant visas do not need to complete a form for a separate Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Your visa sponsor is effectively petitioning the government for your entry into the country. For this reason, the most important requirement is proving financial support.
If you’re sponsored by an employer, you will need to present evidence of a job offer. In the visa application, the employer needs to clearly state that the applicant will be working for them.
In the US, for instance, employers need to complete the following supporting documents before the applicant can begin filing paperwork.
Ensure that the position qualifies for a foreign applicant
Prove that the applicant has the necessary skills
Submit an application to the Department of Labor (DOL)
Register with the USCIS for H1-B lottery
Submit 1-129 form to USCIS
Provide additional support as necessary
The necessary documents change, depending on the applicant’s country of origin.
For financial sponsorship, the requirements are slightly different. You will need to prove that you are financially stable, which means showing bank statements or consistent payments. If the applicant doesn’t have enough money in their account for travel, the sponsor will need to book airline tickets and lodging in advance, or prove that they have sufficient space in their homes to host the applicant.
Required documents for visa sponsorship include:
Government mandated forms
Sign letter by sponsored
Photocopies/scans of sponsor’s ID or passport
Proof of financial stability
Proof of address
One of the most important parts of the visa process is completing the sponsorship letter, which can take months. Employers will need legal experts who specialize in immigration to ensure that all documentation is accurate. They will also need to submit a Labor Certification to the DOL, stating that they could not find a US citizen with the necessary skills to fill the role.
The visa sponsorship letter can take months to process. Thankfully, the applicant can start the process at a US embassy or consulate in their home country
In some countries, such as Mexico or Portugal, applying for a visa is a relatively straightforward process. In other countries, such as the United States, the UK, Costa Rica, and Germany, employers will need to prove that the visa applicant has specialized skills that they could not find in their own country.
For foreign knowledge workers looking to live in the US, applying for an H-1B is the most common route. However, employers can technically only issue this visa when they have tried and failed to find qualified US residents to fill open positions in their company. In the US, however, some companies simply don’t have the funds, time, or resources to support an H-1B visa. For this reason, it’s important to research which employers have been sponsors in the past.
In the US and Canada, the most common form of sponsorship is family. Family-based immigration simply means that a citizen or permanent resident of the country has sufficient resources to support the applicant once they arrive in the foreign country.
If you’re applying for a work visa in the US, your long-term goal might be to become a permanent resident and apply for a green card. In most cases, you will need a family member or employer to sponsor your green card application as well.
Some notable examples included:
Widows/widowers of an American citizen, as long as the applicant has not yet remarried. This opportunity is available for 2 years.
Domestic violent victims of a US Citizen
In the US, visa sponsorship costs range anywhere from $4000-$9000.
The price breaks down as follows:
Form I-129 ($460)
Form I-40 ($700)
American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 charges ($750-$1500)
Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee ($500)
For employers with more than 50 employees, with half of them being foreign nationals ($4000-$4500)
Legal fees (variable)
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To sponsor someone for a visa in the US, you will need to be an employer, relative, or fiancé(e). In general, you will need to prove that you have sufficient financial resources to support both yourself and the visa applicant.
Sponsoring a visa costs around $4,000 but prices can rise to $9,000 or higher depending on the individual’s circumstances.
If your friend is applying for a B-2 tourist visa, then you can write them a letter of invitation, which can help make the case that the applicant will be supported while staying in the country.
You can sponsor as many people as you can afford, though keeping it limited to a small number of family members is recommended. Unfortunately, you will need to process each individual’s application separately.