Generally, aliens who seek admission to the U.S. as lawful permanent residents must
establish that they will not become "public charges." Many aliens establish that they
will not become public charges by having sponsors pledge to support them by signing
affidavits of support. Prior to the 1996 changes in SSI alien law, courts had ruled
that the affidavit of support then in use by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
did not constitute a legally enforceable contract.
P.L. 104-193, as amended by P.L. 104-208, required the U.S. Attorney General to formulate
a new, legally enforceable affidavit of support. Under this legislation, the period
for which sponsor-to-alien deeming applies and the amount of income and resources
deemed from the sponsor and his/her spouse to the alien are governed by the type of
affidavit signed by the sponsor.
For aliens whose sponsors sign the new, legally enforceable affidavit of support,
the law requires that if those aliens receive Federal means-tested public benefits,
which include SSI benefits, their sponsors must reimburse the Federal Government in
the amount of those benefits. Sponsors must also advise the Federal Government of
any changes in their addresses.
Information on sponsor-to-alien deeming is contained in SI 00502.200. Additional instructions on the new deeming rules will be issued at a future date.