Income Requirements to Sponsor an Immigrant for a U.S. Green Card (2024)

One of the U.S. government's main concerns with regard to family-based immigration is whether the new immigrants will have enough financial backup to live in the U.S. without needing help from the government, which is why petitioner's must prepare an I-864.

One of the U.S. government's concerns with regard to family-based immigration is whether the new immigrants will have enough financial backup to live in the U.S. without needing monetary or related help from the government. It does this mostly by placing requirements upon the U.S. petitioner or sponsor, as described in this article.

U.S. Sponsors of Family Immigrant Must Contract to Support Them on Form I-864

A major part of the required paperwork when a U.S. sponsor petitions for an immigrant is USCIS Form I-864, or the "Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act."

This form contains the U.S. sponsor's promise to financially support an immigrant who cannot support him- or herself or family, or to pay the government back if the immigrant actually receives need-based public assistance (often called welfare). The form is essentially a contract between a family member petitioning for and sponsoring an immigrant and the U.S. government.

Although all sponsors must prepare and sign the form, it won't always be enough by itself. For one thing, in deciding whether an immigrant is a likely public charge, the government looks to the "totality" of the person's circ*mstances, assessing education and job skills, health insurance coverage, and more.

Also, the sponsoring relative in the U.S. must be able to show a specific level of financial capacity: namely having income or assets that reach at least 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines levels for a family of the appropriate size. This includes everyone living in the sponsor's household as as well as the primary immigrant and any spouse or children immigrating at the same time.

The percentage drops to 100% sponsors who are on active duty in the U.S. armed forces and petitioning for a spouse or child.

Income Requirements to Be a Financial Sponsor

Each year, the U.S. government updates its Poverty Guidelines. The chart provides the details on dollar amount requirements, based on the number of people in the sponsor's household and the number of family members immigrating. You don't have to calculate the 125% amount yourself, but can look on the chart published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-864P. Also, notice that the amounts are different for residents of Alaska and Hawaii.

For example, in 2023, a sponsor in the U.S. mainland would need to have income (or assets) of at least $37,500 to cover a petitioner who lives alone and is sponsoring one immigrant and two children (that is, a total of four people).

Supplementing Income With Assets

The required amount needed for sponsorship can be shown through income alone, or through a combination of income and assets. The assets, however, must be readily convertible to cash within one year, without great hardship or financial loss to their owner. In other words, if the asset is the petitioner's sole retirement account and cashing it out will involve huge financial penalties, it might not be counted. But a house can be counted as an asset.

Also important to realize is that assets will not be counted at their full value. Most petitioners will have to divide their value by five. U.S. citizens sponsoring a spouse or minor children can divide by three.

Dealing With a Sponsor's Low Income

What if you are the primary petitioner and your income doesn't meet the required levels to sponsor the immigrants? You still have to file Form I-864. But you will have to look for ways to augment the amount of support available to the immigrant.

The main ways to do this include relying on the assets of the immigrant, or on their income if the immigrant is already living in the U.S. and employed in a job that will continue after getting the green card; getting an income-earning member of the petitioner's household to agree to include their income in the mix, by signing Form I-864A; or by getting a joint sponsor, with enough income to support their own household plus the immigrants, who fills out and signs and additional Form I-864.

For more on this issue as it relates to the immigrant's application, as well as some exceptions, see this page on financial support an family-based immigrant will need.

Eligibility Requirements to Be a Financial Sponsor

The sponsoring relative (and any joint sponsors or household members) must:

  • be at least 18 years of age
  • hold U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card) status, and
  • live (be "domiciled") in the United States.

This U.S. domicile requirement can create issues if the sponsor already lives overseas. For example, what if the sponsor is a U.S. citizen who was living abroad, then met someone they wanted to marry? Getting a green card for that person would require filling out Form I-864; but the sponsor isn't eligible to serve in this role if not living in the United States.

One way to deal with this is for the sponsor to show the immigration authorities that they are living abroad only temporarily, and never intended to give up U.S. domicile. This will be easier if the sponsor is abroad because of work for the U.S. government, with a U.S. church (in a missionary or other role) or with a U.S. company that is developing foreign trade with the country where the sponsor lives.

The Affidavit of Support can be confusing, and you'll need to include proper documentation to back up your claimed income and assets. An experienced immigration attorney can help you assess what the immigrant(s) and sponsor(s) will need as evidence to meet the requirements.

Getting Legal Help

The financial requirements are one of the biggest hurdles for many families trying to obtain a green card. Although hiring an attorney might be something you're trying to avoid if on a limited income, it can be a cost-effective way to make sure your case goes smoothly, without the need to redo it or reapply.

Income Requirements to Sponsor an Immigrant for a U.S. Green Card (2024)


What is the minimum income for green card sponsorship? ›

The minimum required income for most sponsors is 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for their household size and location. For a couple who live in the 48 contiguous states (mainland United States) and have no children, the required minimum annual income is currently $25,550.

How do I prove my income to sponsor an immigrant? ›

All petitioners for immediate relative and family-preference immigrant case must submit Form I-864 and either (1) an IRS-generated transcript of your most recent tax return (preferred) or (2) a copy of your tax return (Form 1040) for that year.

What is the minimum income to sponsor an immigrant in 2024 in the USA? ›

I-864P, 2024 HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support
Sponsor's Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
5 more rows
Mar 1, 2024

What if the petitioner has no income? ›

What happens if the petitioner doesn't have enough income? Petitioners who cannot meet this level have two choices: 1) find a “joint sponsor” who will agree to also financially support the visa applicant, or 2) use the income of a household member to meet the Poverty Guidelines.

Does immigration look at gross or net income? ›

When completing Form I-864, USCIS typically asks for your adjusted gross income (AGI), not your net income. Your AGI is your total income minus specific deductions allowed by the IRS, such as contributions to retirement accounts or student loan interest payments.

Can you sponsor a green card without a job? ›

Eligibility: Individuals with extraordinary abilities in fields such as science, arts, education, business, or athletics. Criteria: Demonstrated sustained national or international acclaim and recognition. Self-Sponsorship: You can petition for yourself without the need for a job offer or employer sponsorship.

What happens if you don t make enough money to sponsor an immigrant? ›

If you do not meet the financial qualifications, the income of certain other household members can be added to your income level if they sign a contract on Form I-864A, Affidavit of Support Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member, agreeing to make their income or assets available for the support of the relative ...

What are the liabilities of financially sponsoring an immigrant? ›

For what is a sponsor liable? In essence, sponsoring an immigrant means taking on the legal responsibility of financially providing for the person you sponsor during their time in the United States. By signing Form I-864, you're agreeing that you have sufficient income to take care of the immigrant.

Does USCIS check tax returns for green card? ›

Your tax returns are very important proof that you are eligible for naturalization. On the day of your interview, bring certified tax returns for the last 5 years (3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen).

Can I sponsor my spouse if I have no income? ›

Qualifying to Be a Financial Sponsor

Your annual income must be 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline level. If your income is below that level, you may be able to use your assets or those of the beneficiary, such as cash, stocks, bonds, and property, to meet the financial requirements.

How many years of taxes do you need to sponsor an immigrant? ›

How Many Years of Tax Returns Are Required? For Form I-864, the U.S government requires proof of tax filing for the most recent filing year (typically the previous calendar year). Note that the the sponsor (and co-sponsor if any) has the option to provide tax filings from the past 3 years.

How much assets do I need to sponsor an immigrant? ›

The net value of assets must be at least five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty guideline for the household size.

What are the income requirements for green card sponsor? ›

Financial Sponsors File Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Generally, the sponsor must prove that they have an income that is at least 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines based on the household size.

What happens if a sponsor didn't file taxes? ›

What if Your Green Card Sponsor Didn't File Their Taxes? If your sponsoring spouse or joint sponsor did not file their U.S. taxes in the latest year, they must provide an exemption letter with Form I-864 explaining their reason for not filing taxes.

How much income is required for form I-864 sponsor? ›

Sponsor's Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines
-For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or childFor all other sponsors
16 more rows

What are the requirements to sponsor someone for a green card? ›

All sponsors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be at least 18 years old, and be living in the United States (including territories and possessions) when they file the affidavit of support.

What is the minimum salary for eb2 green card? ›

In 2021, the minimum required salary for EB-2 green card was over $140,000. It's worth noting that this salary cap was for the EB-2 green card category for advanced degree holders. The cap for EB-2 green card category for persons with exceptional ability was around $200,000.

How much does it cost for employer to sponsor green card? ›

The I-485 form is the only application form required for sponsoring a foreign worker for permanent residency. The fee for this form can range from $750 – $1,200 depending on the employee's individual circ*mstances and the type of green card they are applying for.


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