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Financial Eligibility for Fiancee and Marriage Visas

Last month I talked about the financial eligibility requirement for a Fiancée Visa, Spousal Visa or Green Card.

To recap:  The US sponsor must demonstrate he has adequate income (or assets) in order to convince immigration he can keep his wife and family off of welfare, or if his wife goes on welfare, he has enough wherewithal so the Feds could ‘bill’ him for the welfare expenses.

The beneficiary, Fiancee or Spouse, must submit to immigration the affidavit of support of her American fiancé or husband, with proof of his income.  The K1 Fiancee hand carries these to her consular interview. The CR-1 Spouse mails these to NVC. The Green Card spouse mails these to USCIS

As most US sponsors are regular full time employees, his income proof is most likely his recent Federal Tax Return 1040, 3 to 6 recent pay stubs (showing year to date earnings) and a letter from his employer stating the terms of his employment.

When the US Sponsor is a regular employee, and he has the standard proofs, the review of his documents is quick and simple.  Within a few minutes the reviewing officer ‘ticks off’ he has seen the required documents and confirms that the sponsor has demonstrated financial eligibility.

But there are also cases where is not so ‘cut and dry’ and a more intensive review and possibly a ‘judgment call’ by the consular officer may be needed.

Self Employed

When a sponsor is a sole proprietor, independent contractor and owns his own business the proof of his income is generally more complicated. This is due to the fact that a small businessman will try to avoid paying taxes by deducting as many expenses as he can. This is both legal and prudent but it usually means that his Adjusted Gross Income (line #38) shown on his 1040 tax return is as low as he can make it.. In presenting income documents the ‘trick’ is to keep your evidence simple and to explain in ‘easy to understand’ terms what your real income would be if you were an employee, not the owner. You want to present what your gross income would be if you were not the owner and not able to use the deductions that you did.  Usually this means enlisting the help of your accountant or bookkeeper to write a letter to clarify the evidence you provide.

Employed, Unemployed, Retired

When reviewing your income, Immigration attempts to forecast whether your income will be adequate not only today but will continue to be sufficient over the next TEN years.

Income was under the requirement last year, but OVER this year

Your present income has the most weight. If your income was low last year (you were a student, unemployed, disabled) it really won’t negatively effect you, as long as this year you have a solid permanent employment, have been on the job at least three months, and    your income to date (shown on your pay stubs)  shows you are on track to earn in excess of the eligibility requirement by the end of this year.

Income over the requirement last year, but UNDER this year

If the reverse is true: your income was good in previous years but now you are unemployed or a student, etc,  you have a ‘Hard Sell’ to convince immigration you  meet the financial requirement.  If you do not want to use a co-sponsor, or are not permitted to use one, then the best you can do is adjust the timing of when you submit your petition.

By Fred Wahl
Fiancee Visa Coach

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