2021 Income Requirements for Marriage Based Immigration
Usually about 9 months in after applying for a fiance or spouse visa, or at the get-go when applying for green card and permanent residency, you will have to provide clear evidence of your income to convincingly demonstrate your future family will not need welfare or other public benefits. It is best to understand what the exact dollar requirements are early, before moving forward, so that you can make sure you have all that is needed, or if you are lacking so that you have time to find a financial co-sponsor.
In order to successfully petition for your spouse or
fiancee to come to the USA, or obtain a Green Card after marriage,
in the USA, you the US sponsor must demonstrate to US Immigration that you have
enough income coming in, to support your new spouse, and whole household.
The minimum financial requirement is that you must have income
equal to and preferably more than 100% of the poverty
income level where you live to be eligible to sponsor a
Fiancee Visa, and over 125% of the poverty level to be
eligible for Spousal Visa or Adjustment of Status.
And often, even when applying for a fiance visa the consular officer might
apply the higher 125% range, at his/her discretion. So its best whenever
possible to aim to exceed the higher standard.
Each year the Department of Health and Human Services
publishes their Poverty Guidelines.
As of March 2021, for residents in the
continental US the Financial Eligibility requirements
are as follows.
Required Annual Income (For Fiancee Visa)
$17,420, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$21,960, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$26,500, if 4 Persons in Family or Household
For each Additional person add $4,540
Required Annual Income (For Spousal Visa or Green Card)
$21,775, if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$27,450, if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$33,125, if 4 Persons in Family or Household
For each Additional person add $5,675
The Financial eligibility thresholds are lower for
active military, and higher for residents of
Alaska or Hawaii.
Proving your Income.
Normally you provide your most recent Federal Tax Return,
3 to 6 pay stubs showing ‘Year to date’ earnings,
plus a letter from your employer confirming your
job, and what your expected annual pay is.
If your income might be low, but you have
‘money in the bank’ your cash assets, can be used as
a alternative for annual income.
‘Cash’ assets are assets which can be easily converted
(sold)to cash. For example: stocks, bonds, certificates of
deposit, cash in the bank
You may have a lot of other assets such as your car, boat, coin
collection, business or investment property but because these
can NOT be easily turned to cash immigration will not accept
them as alternatives to annual income.
The one exception to an asset that is hard to convert, but
CAN be counted is your home. If the market value of
your home is higher than your mortgage you may use
the equity just like a cash asset.
$5 cash assets is the equivalent of $1 annual income
For example, a retired Fiancee Visa sponsor living in California,
with NO income, and no dependents would need to have
5 times $17,420 or $87,100 in cash assets to quality for the Fiancee Visa.
Alternatively a combination of income and assets can work.
For example, if the sponsors income is $10,000 per year,
then his annual income is short by $7,420 so he should have 5 times
that amount or $37,100 cash or convertible assets
$17,420 – $10,000 = $7,420 x 5 = $ 37,100 cash assets needed.
This is calculated by subtracting $10,000 from the annual
requirement of $17,420. And then the difference of $7,420
times Five equals $37,100 of cash assets needed.
What if you don’t have enough income OR assets?
In that case you could ask a relative or friend to act as a co or joint-sponsor.
Just like buying a car, your joint-sponsor could ‘co-sign’ your loan.
When a joint-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 joint-sponsor.
Both the college student and the father would each complete an
affidavit of support. The student’s household is just 2 persons,
himself and his fiancee. The father’s 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 joint-sponsor
would have to be $35,580 or more.
A joint-sponsor can be used for any Spousal Visa or
Adjustment of Status petition, and can be used for MOST
Fiancee Visa petitions.
However, not all consulates allow the use of a joint-sponsor for a Fiancee Visa.
For example: Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria do not.
If you are applying for a Fiancee visa and need a joint-sponsor,
before filing the petition, best is to contact the consulate directly and
confirm whether the consulate’s policies permit the use of a
financial joint-sponsor or not. If they won’t allow a co-sponsor then
switch plans, marry then apply for a spouse visa, and your co-sponsor
can be used when needed.
This was Fred Wahl, The VisaCoach