What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? (2024)

Eligibility Requirements to Sponsor an Immigrant

Your income becomes available for an immigrant when you take on the legal responsibility to sponsor them. Before the Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens, immigrants have been accessing some means-tested public benefits meant for US nationals and permanent residents.

Since the memorandum cut off their access, it means that you, as a sponsor, must be ready to provide financial support to the person based on your own income. You become a sponsor when you file an immigrant visa petition. You can do this with a family-based green card. To sponsor a relative, you must meet the following conditions:

  • At least 18 years old
  • A US national or permanent resident
  • An active resident in the US or a US territory or possession

If you currently live outside the US, the domiciliary requirement may pose a challenge since you need to reside in the country to file form I-864. However, you can handle the situation by persuading relevant authorities that you are living abroad temporarily and do not intend to give up US domicile. This is easier to achieve if you currently live abroad due to economic reasons (as a worker for the US government or a multinational company) or social reasons (as a church volunteer or missionary).

Affidavit of Support

Popularly called Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is a form signed by an individual to accept financial responsibility for the immigrant who is coming to live in the United States. The form includes a section for income and assets which must be verifiable and properly documented. Because Affidavit of Support forms can be confusing or complicated, you may get an experienced immigration lawyer to assess your ability to meet the requirements. The US government might require an insurance policy or additional financial resources in which case you may need to file for a joint sponsor. In some cases the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) grants substitute sponsor.

Joint Sponsorship

Joint sponsorship occurs when an additional person cooperates with you to sponsor an immigrant. The person willing to share the legal responsibility of sponsoring an immigrant is a joint sponsor. To become a joint sponsor, you must also meet the same requirements as a primary sponsor, only that you don’t have to be related to the immigrant.

Since the joint sponsor will financially support the family-member, they (including their household member who may provide third-party support) need to fulfil the 125% income requirement according to federal poverty guidelines. However, you are not allowed to add up your income with the joint sponsor’s income to reach the income requirement.

Substitute Sponsor

A substitute sponsor is to file Form I-864 in the place of a deceased visa petitioner that passed on after the visa petition is approved, provided the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wills to continue with the petition. The USCIS, a department within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the government agency that will process the application. The substitute sponsor must also meet the legal and financial requirements of a sponsor in accordance with INA 213A. They must also have relations with the intending immigrant in any of these capacity:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Mother-in-law
  • Father-in-law
  • Child (at least 18 years old)
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Son-in-law
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Sister-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Beneficiary’s legal guardian

When to File the Affidavit of Support

Family-based immigration laws in the United States can be quite rigorous. If you intend to sponsor an immigrant, it is advisable to work closely with an experienced immigration attorney before you begin to file with the USCIS.

Ideally, you should fill Form I-864 when an overseas consular office schedules an immigrant visa interview for the applicant concerned or the latter submits an application for permanent residency status with a US immigration court or the USCIS.

Joint sponsors should also complete Form I-864 at this time. If you depend on the income of any household member to qualify, each concerned person must complete a separate Form I-864A which stipulates the Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.

Your U.S. federal income tax return and proof of current employment are among the documents to be filed. If you are tax-exempted within the required timeframe, you need to give an explanation. Delaying information on your annual returns or evidence of exemption may delay action on your visa petition. If you fail to provide this information, your relative’s visa or adjustment of status may be denied.

The immigrant is also required to provide the completed I-864 form during their interview or application for permanent resident status. The interview process is activated once you file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Form I-130 contains fundamental personal and relationship-based details while Form I-864 is strictly about financial sponsorship. In a way, Form I-864 is a kind of contract that guarantees the immigrant’s financial security from the US government’s perspective. This way, if they later utilize any public benefits, the government can be reimbursed from the sponsor’s income or assets.

The completed Affidavit of Support, including the required documentation should be notarized and made available to the intending applicant who will compile it with their visa or permanent resident status application. If the National Visa Center issues specific instructions to file your affidavit, follow as directed.

Minimum Income Requirements for a Financial Sponsor

Overview

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updates its Federal Poverty Guidelines every year. The chart, containing variables for the 48 adjoining states and DC, highlights the dollar requirements based on the number of people in a family or household. The amounts vary for Alaska and Hawaii residents.

For example, in 2022, the revenue (or assets) of a sponsor with 2 family members based in any U.S. mainland states needs to reach at least $40,588 if they are looking to sponsor an immigrant with a child to make a total of 5 people.

Another factor that matters regarding minimum income requirements for a green card holder or US citizen on spousal sponsorship is whether the sponsor is a military or civilian spouse. A military spouse is someone on active duty in the US Armed Forces who is applying for their spouse’s green card.

Civilian Sponsor

You qualify to sponsor your spouse’s green card application once your remuneration exceeds the federal poverty line by a minimum of 125%. Couples who reside outside the US both need to adhere to the minimum income requirements applicable to the 48 contiguous states and other US territories.

For instance, a civilian spouse based in Hawaii with a household size of 3 (spouse inclusive) would meet the income requirement of $33,113. If they are based in Alaska, that would be $35,988 while it would cost $28,788 in US mainland.

Military Sponsors

Military spouses can be eligible to qualify for spousal sponsorship if their income requirements reach 100% of the federal poverty line. If both couples are domiciled outside the US, they both need to adhere to the minimum income requirements applicable to the 48 contiguous states and other US territories.

For example, a military spouse based in Hawaii with a household size of 5 (spouse inclusive) would meet the minimum income requirement of $37,350. If they are based in Alaska, that would be $40,590 while it would cost $32,470 if they reside in other parts of the United States.

How Determine the Minimum Income Requirements According to Your Household Size

For the number of people in your household, remember to count the following:

  • Yourself (the sponsor)
  • Your spouse (the sponsored immigrant or green card applicant)
  • Your unmarried children (below age 21 or the age of majority where they live)
  • Anyone else listed as dependent on your tax form
  • Any other green card applicant who is coming to the US with your spouse
  • Anyone else whose Affidavit of Support you will separately sponsor

Do you need help sponsoring an immigrant? Our lawyers can assist you.

Sources of Income that Count

Your annual income as a sponsor is the same amount reported on your federal income tax return for the latest tax filing year. For tax filing year 2022, you can fill IRS Form 1040-ES. It includes payment on taxable income, such as salary and wages, dividends or interest earned, retirement benefits, unemployment compensation, child support, and the taxable portion of your social security benefits.

Overview

If your total income still does not meet the minimum income requirements to sponsor an immigrant, you are allowed to include the income of other adult household members. However, you can only include it if it is enough income and they are willing to provide financial support to your applicant.

If there are no adult members or willing adults in the sponsor’s household, or if the income level still doesn’t meet the federal poverty guidelines, a viable option is to get a co-sponsor.

Where feasible, you can include the earnings from the immigrant provided they keep generating their income from that same source once their application is approved.

Does Foreign Income Count?

There is only one way foreign income counts for the income requirements of sponsors who are currently domiciled outside of the United States; if they can prove that they will retain their current job when they are back in the US, or they have secured a new job that supports their full financial responsibility as a sponsor.

The income of sponsors who work remotely or transfer offices within multinationals can count as foreign income.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on sponsoring an immigrant.

How Assets Help to Meet Financial Obligations

Assets refer to items that are easily convertible to cash within one year and whose loss will not impoverish the sponsor’s household. The amount required for sponsorship can be obtained through income alone, or, where that will not suffice, by combining income and assets.

If an asset is the sponsor’s major retirement account, and cashing it out will lead to severe financial loss, it might not be accepted. Moreover, the government will not count the full value of the asset when determining the minimum annual income obligation. Sponsors need to divide the value of the asset by 5 while US nationals sponsoring a spose or minor children can divide theirs by 3.

You are also allowed to count the assets of other adult household members provided you are related to them by birth, marriage or adoption and you lived together for the past six months or you enlist them as a dependent on your latest tax return.

To determine the volume of your assets that needs to be added to your Affidavit of Support, follow these steps:

  • Find your minimum income requirement according to the HHS federal poverty line (remember to rightly fix your household size and note the civilian or military multiplier quotient).
  • Observe the variation between your actual combined household income and minimum income obligation.
  • As the sponsor, if you are a green card holder, multiply this variance by 5. If you are a US citizen, multiply this by 3. The aggregate is the total value of assets needed to offset the minimum income requirement.

With the asset value determined, you can now pinpoint the assets to file to meet the annual income obligation. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services regards the following items as assets that can be counted:

  • Cash savings
  • Mutual fund investments
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • Your home’s value
  • Your car’s net value (provided you own another vehicle that is not listed as an asset)

To calculate your home’s net value, subtract any mortgages or outstanding fees on your home from its appraised value. To calculate your car’s net value, subtract any outstanding auto loans on the vehicle from the market value of the car.

Assets owned by the intending immigrant or green card applicant can be added regardless of their base. Their foreign assets, including foreign savings accounts also count. For foreign resources to count towards the minimum financial requirements, the green card holder, US citizen, their applicant spouse or intending immigrant must be able to relocate the assets from their current location to the US while liquid assets must be convertible to cash.

When Sponsor’s Income is Low

What happens if your annual income doesn’t meet the minimum income requirement for sponsoring immigrant(s)? You still have to fill the Affidavit of Support form as the primary sponsor. Then you may seek for options to augment the difference, starting with a willing and financially capable adult household member who would sign Form I-864A.

If the immigrant already lives and works in the country, another practical solution is to rely on their income and assets, provided they can continue with the current job or have another one lined up for them after obtaining the green card.

Other alternatives include getting a joint sponsor who has enough to meet the total value in addition to the support they currently provide to their own household.

If you have done all you can and still haven’t met the minimum income requirement to sponsor an immigrant or a green card applicant, your financial assets can be added to the mix. But it is advisable to canvass for household income before liquidating or transferring your assets. This includes other household members’ assets that meet the eligibility criteria.

What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? (1)

When Does a Sponsor’s Financial Responsibility End?

An Affidavit of Support is legally binding on the sponsor until the following conditions or requirements are fulfilled by the immigrant or green card applicant:

  • Relocates permanently outside the US
  • Becomes a U.S. citizen
  • Credited with 40 quarters of work in the US (usually takes 10 years)
  • Dies

You are to take on the financial responsibility until any of the event occurs. If the sponsored immigrant has been living in the the country and earning work credits before submitting an application for the green card, the previous work credits add up to the 40. For spousal cases, the work done by the sponsoring spouse while married can also add up to the required 40 quarters.

What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? (2)

Risks of Sponsoring an Immigrant

Form I-864 is a legally enforceable agreement wherein the sponsored immigrant, green card applicant or the government can sue the sponsor if they fail to provide the required support. Because the law places more responsibility on the sponsor than the immigrant, signing an Affidavit of Support is a weighty decision with decade-long responsibility.

If the sponsored immigrant decides to quit their job and live on the sponsor, they would be operating within their legal rights. If they sue the sponsor, they can be compensated by about 125% of the annual income stipulated in the federal poverty guidelines.

Filing for bankruptcy does not automatically terminate your sponsorship obligations because Form I-864 falls under Domestic Support Obligations alongside other support obligations like maintenance, alimony, or support for a person’s child, spouse, or former spouse.

For spousal sponsorship cases, the sponsoring spouse remains legally responsible even after a divorce. Some sponsors ask the immigrant to sign a different contract agreeing not to enforce financial sponsorship in case of a divorce, but its admissibility in court is debatable.

Should a sponsor attempt to escape from their responsibilities by changing their address, the US government has prohibited such move by legally requiring sponsors to keep USCIS updated on their current address until their financial obligation ends.

If a sponsor changes address, the law mandates them to file Form I-865, Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address, within 30 days after the date they moved. Any sponsor that fails to comply may pay fines between $250 and $2,000; or $5,000 if they know the immigrant has received means-tested public benefits.

Take the first step. Contact us today for help and assistance with sponsoring an immigrant.

How to Sponsor an Immigrant that is a Non-Family Member

Overview

You can only petition for a foreign national’s visa or green card if they are a family member or an employee. However, you can still help a friend and other acquaintances by acting as a financial sponsor if you meet the income requirement. Your contribution as a sponsor can be important enough to determine if their application is approved or rejected.

Household income must be at least 125% of the federal poverty line for a civilian household size. A full-time military sponsor needs to meet 100% of the poverty line. You can file Form I-864 to commit to sponsoring a non-family member.

If the immigrant relies on any government assistance program, you may be liable for a civil lawsuit whereby you’ll have to refund the government. You may also be liable for a fine, just as would be the case with a relative sponsorship. However, your friend or relative are free to access some government assisted programs.

Public Benefits that Exclude Immigrants

The following means-tested public benefits programs are not available for immigrants:

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps
  • Supplement Security Income (SSI)
  • State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Public Benefits Accessible to Immigrants

If a sponsored immigrant utilizes these assistance programs, you bear no liability:

  • Emergency Medicaid
  • Head Start Programs
  • Immunizations, testing, and treatment for infectious diseases
  • Means-tested programs (Elementary and Secondary Education Act)
  • Job Training Partnership Act programs
  • Short-term, non-cash emergency relief
  • Certain forms of foster-care or adoption assistance (Social Security Act)
  • Student assistance (Higher Education Act and Public Health Service Act)
  • Services under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts

There are cases where sponsored immigrants need to have lived in the US for a minimum of 5 years to be eligible for certain benefits.

What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? (3)

How Can IAS Help?

Financially sponsoring an immigrant or green card applicant is dynamic because of the rules, exceptions, exemptions and broad range of applications. Your safety heavily relies on legal advice tailored to your circ*mstances provided by a reputable immigration law firm. Call us on0330 311 6351to get started orcontact ustoday for immediate assistance.

Take the first step. Request a Fact Finding + FREE Consultation

Table of Contents

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What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? (2024)

FAQs

What is the Minimum Income to Sponsor an Immigrant to the US? ›

2024 Income Requirements for Green Card Sponsors

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 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.

Can you sponsor an immigrant without a job? ›

There are also ways to get a green card without a US company sponsor. Two of these ways are: (1) the EB1A visa; and (2) the National Interest Waiver. Through both of these options, you do not need a job offer and you do not need a company to file an immigrant visa petition on your behalf.

How long are you financially responsible for someone you sponsor? ›

The sponsor's financial responsibility usually lasts until the applicant either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work (usually 10 years) under the Social Security Act.

How much money do I need to make to sponsor an immigrant in 2024? ›

I-864P, 2024 HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support
Sponsor's Household Size100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*
2$23,500$29,375
3$29,690$37,113
4$35,880$44,850
5$42,070$52,588
5 more rows
Mar 1, 2024

What is the minimum sponsor amount? ›

Minimum Annual Income For Military Sponsors in 2022.
Sponsor's Household Size (by number of people, including sponsor and spouse)Sponsors in the 48 continental states, D.C., and U.S. territoriesSponsors in Hawaii
2$18,310$21,060
3$23,030$26,490
4$27,750$31,920
5$32,470$37,350
3 more rows

How much income do you need to sponsor an immigrant? ›

2024 Minimum Annual Income Requirements for Most Sponsors: 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines
Number of people in your household (including yourself and your spouse)*For sponsors in the 48 contiguous states, D.C., and U.S. territoriesFor sponsors in Hawaii
2$25,550$29,375
3$32,275$37,113
4$39,000$44,850
5$45,725$52,588
4 more rows

What are the risks of sponsoring an immigrant? ›

Liabilities of Sponsoring an Immigrant
  • Risks from the Immigrant. ...
  • Immigrant May Sue You for Financial Support. ...
  • Sponsorship is not Necessarily Terminated by Divorce. ...
  • Risk from the Government. ...
  • US Government May Sue You for Reimbursem*nt. ...
  • USCIS May Fine You. ...
  • The Opportunity Cost. ...
  • The Additional Cost in a Worst Case Scenario.

What is proof of income for immigration? ›

Form W2s are available from your employer and the Internal Revenue Service. What if I am self-employed or work as an independent contractor and do not have Form W2? You can use a Tax Return Transcript to prove income. For independent contractors, IRS Form 1099 is also acceptable as proof of income.

Who is ineligible to sponsor an immigrant? ›

Broadly speaking, the category of crimes that will bar citizens and green card holders from petitioning for immigrants encompasses mostly offenses against a minor (a child under the age of 18), both sexual and non-sexual. These include: an offense (unless committed by a parent or guardian) involving kidnapping.

Can a U.S. citizen sponsor a friend? ›

While you can't directly sponsor a non-relative friend, you still have the option to offer financial support and protection for an immigrant entering the US. Here's what you need to do to become a joint financial sponsor for a friend.

What does an employer need to do to sponsor an immigrant? ›

First, your employer is required to get an approved Labor Certification from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Second, your employer must file an immigrant petition on your behalf (Form I-140). Third, you are required to either adjust status (Form I-485) or apply for your immigrant visa (Form DS-260).

Am I financially responsible if I marry an immigrant? ›

Yes, if you have submitted an Affidavit of Support.

Marrying an immigrant is a wonderful step, and There are some important responsibilities to understand when marrying an immigrant. One of these is the Affidavit of Support, a legal agreement where you pledge to financially support your spouse.

What are the liabilities of sponsoring an immigrant? ›

A sponsor is liable for the intended immigrant until one of the following events occurs:
  • The immigrant successfully becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • The immigrant earns approximately ten years of credited work toward social security (40 quarters).
  • The immigrant permanently leaves the U.S. or dies.

What should a sponsor not do? ›

A sponsor should not impose his or her personal views on you. A sponsor is also usually not a close friend or a romantic partner. For the sponsor-sponsee relationship to be successful objectivity and honesty are important. Close friendships or romantic relationships can make this very difficult to achieve.

What is the income minimum to sponsor an immigrant us? ›

2024 Income Requirements for Green Card Sponsors

The most common minimum annual income required to sponsor a spouse or family member for a green card is $25,550. This assumes that the sponsor — the U.S. citizen or current green card holder — is not on active military duty and is sponsoring only one relative.

What is the financial responsibility for 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.

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