In order to successfully be approved for a CR1 or IR1 Spouse visa that allows your foreign spouse to enter the USA and take up permanent residence with you, US immigration must be confident that you, the US sponsor, have enough financial strength, to support and feed your future family. They must be convinced that there is no chance your new family would need public benefits such as welfare, or food stamps to survive.
The financial requirement is that your income must be over 125% of the poverty income level where you live.
Each year the Department of Health and Human Services publishes their Poverty Guidelines.
The new Poverty Guidelines have risen about $400 from last year.
As of March 2020, for residents in the continental US the Financial Eligibility requirements for Spouse Visas are as follows.
Required Annual Income
$21,550 if 2 Persons in Family or Household
$27,150 if 3 Persons in Family or Household
$32,750 if 4 Persons in Family or Household
For each Additional person add $5,600
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 is your Home
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, if your household is just you and your new spouse, you need to have $21,550 annual income, but if you have no income, BUT do have cash assets, you would need to have
$21,550 times 5 or $107,750 of cash assets to qualify.
Alternatively a combination of income and assets could work.
For example, if your income is $10,000 per year, the calculation for how much cash assets you would need would be $21,550 annual income requirement, less the $10,000 income you have leaving a shortfall of $11,550.
Then $11,550 times 5 or $57,750 is the amount of cash assets
you need to qualify.
What if you don’t have enough income OR assets?
In that case you can ask a relative or friend to act as a joint-sponsor.
Just like buying a car, your joint-sponsor could ‘co-sign’ your loan.
When you use a joint-sponsor the total size of the household increases.
Now we combine all the people in your household plus those in your joint-sponsor’s.
For example, you ask your father to joint-sponsor. Your household is just 2 persons, you and your new spouse. Your fathers household is your father, mother, and the two children still living at home.
Thus the combined household would be 6 persons, and the combined income of both sponsor and joint-sponsor would need to be $43,950 or more to qualify.
By Fred Wahl