For a spouse who will sign the Affidavit of Support for a marriage-based green card, the minimum annual income requirement is $21,550

One of the major concerns of the US government while considering family-based immigration, is whether the immigrant spouse will have enough financial resources to live in the U.S., without needing help from the government.

A U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident sponsoring a foreign spouse needs to assure the U.S. government that the immigrant spouse will be financially supported if needed.

The sponsor (US citizen/green card holder) makes this commitment to the US government by completing and signing the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Affidavit of Support is a legal contract between the sponsor or petitioner and the U.S. government, ensuring that the immigrant will not become a public charge.

We have covered in-depth guides explaining everything you need to know about the Form I-864.

The income requirements for sponsors gradually vary depending upon the family size. You’ll see this further in the article. 

The income requirements will be higher for residents of Alaska and Hawaii as compared to residents of the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

Check out our other marriage-based green card guides:

Marriage-Based Green Card Checklist (Non-Citizen Spouse is Abroad)

Marriage-Based Green Card Checklist (Both Spouses in the U.S.)

Marriage Green Card – How Much Does it Cost [2020]

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card? [2020]

Marriage Green Card – Complete Step-by-Step Guide [2020]

Income Requirements for Marriage Green Cards in 2020

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You must meet certain income requirements (whether you are a sponsor, a joint sponsor, or a substitute sponsor). 

You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. 

If you (sponsor) are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or child, your income only needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.

This amount can be shown through income alone, or through a combination of income and assets. 

Every year, the U.S. government updates its Poverty Guidelines. The tables illustrated below suggest the poverty guidelines, with effect as on March 1, 2020.

These charts provide the details on dollar amount requirements, based on the number of people in the sponsor’s household and the number of family members immigrating. 

2020 Minimum Annual Income Requirements for green card applicants: 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines

Sponsor’s Household SizeApplicants in 48 contiguous states, D.C., and U.S. territoriesApplicants in AlaskaApplicants in Hawaii
2$21,550$26,937$24,787
3$27,150$33,937$31,225
4$32,750$40,937$37,662
5$38,350$47,937$44,100
6$43,950$54,937$50,537
7$49,550$61,937$56,975
8$55,150$68,937$63,412
More than 8Add $5,600 for each additional personAdd $7,000 for each additional personAdd $6,437 for each additional person

 

2020 Minimum Annual Income Requirements for Military Sponsors: 100% of Federal Poverty Guidelines

Sponsor’s Household SizeApplicants in 48 contiguous states, D.C., and U.S. territoriesApplicants in AlaskaApplicants in Hawaii
2$17,240$21,550$19,830
3$21,720$27,150$24,980
4$26,200$32,750$30,130
5$30,680$38,350$35,280
6$35,160$43,950$40,430
7$39,640$49,550$45,580
8$44,120$55,150$50,730
More than 8Add $4,480 for each additional personAdd $5,600 for each additional personAdd $5,150 for each additional person

Determining the Household Size

As you can clearly understand from the tables above, the income requirements for a sponsor vary with the size of the household members. 

Your household size includes:

  • You (the sponsor)
  • Your foreign spouse (beneficiary)
  • Any dependent children under the age of 21 
  • Any other dependents listed on your most recent Federal income tax return
  • Any immigrants previously sponsored with a Form I-864 or Form I-864 EZ, affidavit of support whom you are still obligated to support.
  • Any derivative applicants who plan to immigrate within six months.
  • Everyone being sponsored in this Affidavit of Support.

What if Marriage Green Card Sponsor Doesn’t Meet the Income Requirements?

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If your (sponsor’s) individual annual income is not over 125% of the household income, then you’ll have to take other measures to meet this income requirement.

In such a case, you can meet the minimum income requirement for your household size by using any of the combinations stated below:

  • Income from any relatives or dependents living in your household, or dependents listed on your most recent Federal, income tax return who signed Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member
  • Income from the immigrant spouse, if that income will continue from the same source after immigration. His or her income can be counted only if it will continue from the same source after he or she becomes a lawful permanent resident
  • The value of your assets, the assets of any household member who has signed Form I-864A, or the assets of the intending immigrants, or
  • A joint sponsor whose income and/or assets equal at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Note: Your annual income as a sponsoring spouse is the same figure you reported on your U.S. federal (not state) income tax return for the most recent tax filing year.

Using Income and Assets of Relatives and Household Members 

In case you do not meet the income requirements to sponsor your foreign spouse, you may use the income and assets of members of your household who are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption.

This means you can jointly use the income of your relatives living in your residence. 

However, in order to use their  income, you must have listed them as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months.

These household members and dependents are also required to complete and sign Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.

Once all these conditions are satisfied, these relatives and household members can help you meet the income requirements to jointly be responsible for the foreign spouse, you are sponsoring. 

Using Immigrant Spouse’s Income to Meet Financial Requirements

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You may also use your foreign spouse’s income to help you meet the income requirements, in case your income alone is not enough. 

However, in this case, the foreign spouse can contribute his/her income to meet the requirements only if the income continues to come from the same source, once the foreign spouse obtains a green card.

Using Assets to Meet the Income Requirements

If your total household income is still not enough to fulfill the minimum annual income requirement, you can use your assets as a substitute to meet these income requirements.

Not just your assets, you may also utilize your household members’ assets to meet the income requirements, provided they meet the following requirements:

  • They are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption.
  • You must have them listed as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months.

What assets can I use?

You may use assets to supplement income if the consular or immigration officer is convinced that the monetary value of the asset could reasonably be made available to support the sponsored immigrant and converted to cash within one year without undue harm to the sponsor or his or her family members.

To determine the amount of assets required to qualify, subtract your household income from the minimum income requirement (125% of the poverty level for your family size). 

You must prove that the cash value of your assets is worth five times this difference (the amount leftover).

These assets can include:

  • Savings 
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Mutual fund investments
  • Property (both real estate and other forms of property)

You may also add assets that include items like a house or a second vehicle, only if you can sell it. 

You may not include an automobile unless you show that you own at least one working automobile that you have not included.

You must keep in mind subtracting debts, mortgages, and liens before writing down their value. 

Only those assets that can be converted into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the owner, may be included. 

You will obviously need to enlist the assets and mainly prove that you own them, indicating the portion you own. 

Information on any liens and/or liabilities relating to these assets must be provided.

Using a Joint Sponsor to Meet Income Requirements

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If the petitioning sponsor does not meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor who can meet the requirements may submit a Form I-864 to sponsor your immigrant spouse.

In other words, the joint sponsor is willing to accept the legal responsibilities for supporting your spouse, with you. 

A joint sponsor can be any person who meets the following requirements:

  • U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national 
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Domiciled in the United States, and
  • Willing to be held jointly liable with the petitioner for the support of the intending immigrant.

A joint sponsor does not have to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant. 

Just like the sponsoring spouse, the joint sponsor must meet the minimum annual income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size until your obligations end.

A joint sponsor must be able to meet the income requirements for all the persons he or she is sponsoring without combining resources with the petitioning sponsor or a second joint sponsor. 

Note: Even if one or more Form I-864s are submitted for the immigrant spouse, the petitioning sponsor remains legally accountable for the financial support of the sponsored immigrant along with the joint sponsors.

The petitioning sponsor must complete and submit a signed Form I-864 for the intending immigrant even if a joint sponsor will be used.

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