What Are the Income Requirements for a Marriage Green Card Sponsor?
The main Green Card sponsor’s income must meet the minimum income requirements set by the USCIS, however, may be able to further supplement the income from other assets, or even the help of close relatives. Let’s look into the income requirements for marriage Green Card and how to utilize the various sources of income.
It is important to ensure that the main Green Card sponsor has enough financial resources to sponsor the marriage Green Card applicant. To ensure that the marriage Green Card applicant will not rely on the U.S. government for financial aid, it is imperative that the main Green Card sponsor, or additional joint sponsors, be able to meet the minimum requirements for sponsorship through Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA).
I. How is the minimum income requirement for Green Card sponsorship calculated?
When calculating the income requirements for a marriage Green Card, the main Green Card sponsor must consider the following factors to determine the minimum immigration sponsorship income requirements:
- The annual poverty guideline determined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [Form I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support]
- Whether you are a resident of the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Whether you are a resident of Alaska
- Whether you are a resident of Hawaii
In general, the total minimum income requirements for marriage visas will be 125% of the HHS poverty guidelines published annually on USCIS website. However, if the main Green Card sponsor is on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, the requirement is reduced to 100% of the HHS poverty guidelines.
II. Who is considered to be part of the household of the Green Card sponsor?
In order to calculate the minimum income requirement of marriage Green Card sponsorship, it is first important to determine who will be counted as part of the sponsor’s household. The following members are considered to be a part of the household:
- The main Green Card sponsor
- The marriage Green Card applicant
- Dependent children (Determined by the residence)
- Any other dependents
- Any other individuals that have been sponsored
- Siblings, parents, or adult children with the same principal residence who will be submitting Form I-864A (Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member)
III. How is the main Green Card sponsor’s income calculated?
The first step in determining the earned income of the main Green Card sponsor is to look at the most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax Return (Form 1040 of the Internal Revenue Service). The total income can be found on line 9 of the main sponsor’s Form 1040. This line 9 will be a composite determined by all sources of income attributing to the income of the main sponsor.
IV. What if the main Green Card sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirement to sponsor?
In the event that the main Green Card sponsor’s income is not sufficient to meet the minimum income requirements to sponsor the marriage Green Card applicant, the main Green Card sponsor may request the assistance from other adult household members. These individuals may be any of the following that are at least eighteen (18) years of age to complete the Form I-864A:
- The intending immigrant, if the same income will continue from the same source after being approved for the marriage Green Card
- The parents
- Adult son or daughter
- Sibling relative of the sponsor (with the same principal residence as sponsor)
- Any other dependent claimed on most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax return who resides elsewhere
Alternatively, the main Green Card sponsor may request the aid of a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor is not required to share their principal residence as the main Green Card sponsor. However, the joint sponsor will have to file their own Form I-864, and be willing to accept the same responsibilities as the main sponsor. The income of the main sponsor and the joint sponsor cannot be combined. The joint sponsor will need to meet the minimum requirement for income just as the main sponsor. The joint sponsor must also be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. Green Card holder residing within the United States.
V. Can the main Marriage Green Card sponsor use income from foreign countries?
The main Green Card sponsor may use all sources of income including from foreign countries if the following requirements are met:
- The main Green Card sponsor is currently residing outside of the United States
- The main sponsor will continue the same employment even when they return to the United States
- The minimum income requirement is met
- The minimum income requirement will continue to be met when they return to the United States
- Alternatively, a lateral movement or transfer within the same employment when relocating to the United States, which also meets the minimum income requirement
VI. Can I use assets to supplement my income to meet the minimum income requirements?
If the main Green Card sponsor’s income does not meet the minimum income requirements, they may use other sources of income including their own assets, as well as the assets of close relatives to supplement their income. The following close relatives’ assets can be used:
- If the close relative is related to the main Green Card sponsor by birth, marriage, or adoption
- If the close relative was listed as a depending on the most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax return of the main sponsor, OR
- If the close relative has resided with the main sponsor for the past six (6) months
VII. Can assets be used to meet the minimum income requirement?
Assets can be used to supplement the income to meet the minimum income requirement. However, the cash value is calculated by reducing the total net value of assets by the liens and liabilities against them. Furthermore, when supplementing the considered income with assets, the total cash value of the asset must equal five (5) times the difference between the total income and the 125% of the HHS poverty guidelines. However, if the main Green Card sponsor is a U.S. citizen, the total cash value of the asset must equal three (3) times the difference between the total income and the 125% of the HHS poverty guidelines.
The types of assets that can be used as sources of income are those that can be:
- Converted into cash within one (1) year
- Must not result in considerable hardship to convert
- Must not result in financial loss
Typical types of assets used as sources of income are savings, certificate of deposits, stocks, bonds and property. In general, the value of the home residence may be used, however, the value of automobiles is not considered, unless there are multiple vehicles. Then the value of automobiles, except the primary vehicle, may be used.
VIII. Can foreign assets of the marriage Green Card applicant be used to supplement the minimum income requirement?
In general, the foreign assets of the marriage Green Card applicant may also be taken into consideration to supplement the minimum income requirement of the main sponsor. However, these foreign assets must meet the following conditions:
- The foreign asset must to be convertible to cash within twelve (12) months
- The foreign asset must be easily removable from the location of the foreign asset within legal limits imposed on by the foreign nation
- The total net value of the foreign asset must equal five (5) times the difference between the main sponsor’s income and the 125% of the HHS poverty guideline