Most people who come to the U.S. have a relative in the U.S. sponsor them. A relative sponsor is a family member who is a citizen or LPR. The sponsor agreed to be responsible for you in the U.S. Sponsors promise the USCIS that if you become poor, they will support you.
If you came to the U.S. after December 19, 1997 through a relative sponsor, the government can count the income and assets of your sponsor and your sponsor’s spouse like it is your income and assets. If more than one person sponsored you, that person's income and assets also counts as your income and assets.
Sponsor income and assets count until you are a US citizen, your sponsor dies or permanently leaves the US, or you have worked 10 years and had FICA taxes taken out of your pay. You may also get credit for work done by your spouse or by your parent(s) when you were a minor.
Counting your sponsor’s income and assets may put you over the income limits for the SNAP program. There are 2 exceptions to counting your sponsor’s income and assets:
- Poverty: Your sponsor’s income and assets are not counted for 12 months if you can show you would be without food AND shelter if the income and assets are counted.
- Abuse: Your sponsor’s income and assets are not counted if you can show that you or your child has faced abuse or extreme cruelty by your spouse or parent. You can’t be living with the abuser anymore. You must show that you need SNAP because of the abuse.
Note: Sponsor income and assets are NOT COUNTED FOR CHILDREN in the SNAP program.
Also Note: For SNAP, the county looks at your sponsor’s family size and fixed debts when deciding how much of your sponsor’s income counts.