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Financial Eligibility Requirements Raised for 2011

In order to successfully petition for your spouse or fiancee to come to the USA, or obtain a Green Card after marriage, the US sponsor must demonstrate to Immigration that he has enough income coming in, that he could support his wife, and household.

The threshold financial requirement is that the sponsor must have income equal to and preferably more than 125% of the poverty
income level where he lives.

Each year the Department of Health and Human Services
publishes their Poverty Guidelines. In 2009 and 2010 the guideline numbers did not change. So the eligibility thresholds (after adding 25%) were $18,300 per couple plus $4,700 per additional household member.

The new Poverty Guidelines published at
have risen about $100 per person. So today’s eligibility thresholds (after adding 25%) are now $18,400 per couple plus $4,800 per additional household member.


The way the financial eligibility calculation works:

The sponsor must have sufficient income or assets to indicate that he is financially able to support the fiancée in order to prevent the fiancée from becoming a ward of the state. The sponsor’s annual income based on the number of dependents his combined household will have, should be at least $125% of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guideline for his state. As of January 2011, for residents in the continental US the Financial Eligibility Thresholds for K1, CR-1 or Green Card are as follows.

Required Annual Income
$18,388, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$23,163, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$27,938, if 4 Persons in Family or Household
$32,713, if 5 Persons in Family or Household
$37,488, if 6 Persons in Family or Household

For each Additional person add $4,775

The Financial eligibility thresholds are lower for
active military, and higher for residents of Alaska or Hawaii.

How to prove your Income.

The way to demonstrate his income, the US sponsor
normally provides 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, and what the annual pay is.

Cash Assets count as an alternate to income.

In some cases a sponsors income may be low, but he has
‘money in the bank’. Cash assets, can be used as
a substitute for annual income. ‘Cash’ assets
are assets which can be easily converted (sold)
to cash. For example: stocks, bonds, certificates of
deposit, cash in a checking account can be used.
Other assets that can NOT be easily turned to cash
such as equity in real estate, are not useable.

Cash Asset Equivalents

For a Fiancee visa. $3 cash assets = $1 annual income
For a Spousal Visa or Adjustment of status (green card)
$6 cash assets = $1 annual income

For example, a retired Fiancee Visa sponsor living in California,
with no income, and no dependents would need to have $55,164
in cash assets to quality.

3 x $18,388 = $55,164

Alternatively a combination of income and assets will work. For example, if sponsors income is $10,000 per year, then he should have
$25,164 cash or convertible assets to qualify.

$18,388 – $10,000 = $8,388 x 3 = $ 25,164 cash assets needed.

Using a Financial Co-sponsor

If the sponsors income or assets are not enough to achieve the
eligibility threshold, the sponsor can ask a relative or friend
to act as a co-sponsor. Just like buying a car, a second person
could ‘co-sign’ your loan. In this case he is co-sponsoring
your petition.

When a co-sponsor is used the size of the household increases.
The combined household (for the financial calculations) would include
the household size of the sponsor combined with the household size
of the co-sponsor.

For example, a college student petitioning for his fiancee, asks his father
to co-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 co-sponsor would have to be $37,488 or more.

A co-sponsor can be used for any Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status petition, and can be used for most Fiancee Visa petitions. Not all consulates allow the use of a co-sponsor for a Fiancee Visa.
Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria do not.

If you are applying for a Fiancee visa and know you will need a co-sponsor, before filing the petition, best is to contact the consulate to confirm whether the consulate’s policies permit the use of a financial co-sponsor.

by Fred Wahl

Fiancee Visa Coach


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