What are the US marriage visa income requirements?
When applying for a marriage visa as the spouse of a US citizen there are various requirements that must be met, not least proof that your US spouse can financially support you without the need for government assistance.
The following guide looks specifically at the marriage visa income requirements that you and your spouse must prove to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), from the income thresholds to using assets to make up any shortfall.
A marriage visa is the permission given to you as the foreign spouse of a US citizen that will enable you to live and work in the United States on an indefinite basis. In short, a marriage visa is a type of green card granting you, as the applicant, lawful permanent residence in the United States.
There are two main routes under which to apply for a marriage visa, either of which will enable you to set up a new life with your spouse in the USA, namely:
- An immigrant visa, otherwise referred to as either a CR1 or IR1 visa, enabling you to enter and rethe United States as a lawful permanent resident from the outset.
- A non-immigrant visa, otherwise referred to as the K3 visa, enabling you to join your spouse in the United States under a temporary classification pending approval of your immigrant petition.
A CR1 visa is an immigrant visa that allows the spouse of a US citizen to enter and live in the United States as a conditional permanent resident. The acronym “CR” stands for “Conditional Residency” and will be granted in circumstances where your marriage is less than 2 years old.
Thereafter, you will be eligible to apply with your spouse to remove your conditional status within 90 days before the 2-year anniversary of your entry into the United States under your immigrant visa.
The IR1 visa is for “Immediate Relatives” and will be granted in circumstances where you have been married for more than 2 years.
The K3 visa, on the other hand, is for the spouse of a US citizen who is looking to shorten any physical separation with their loved one by first applying for a non-immigrant visa abroad, and moving to the United States in the interim whilst a decision is made as to the grant of permanent resident status.
Thereafter, once your immigrant petition has been approved, you can apply to adjust your status to become a permanent resident.
In most cases, however, the K3 visa will not prove necessary as USCIS will approve the immigrant visa petition as quickly as a non-immigrant visa.
What are the requirements for a marriage visa?
There are various procedural steps that must be taken when applying for an immigrant or non-immigrant marriage visa, although in either case your US spouse must file a petition on your behalf. This establishes a qualified relationship for the purposes of a family-based permanent residence application.
In the case of the CR1 or IR1 visa, your spouse will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, whilst for the K3 visa s/he will need to file two petitions, namely Form I-130, as well as Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).
As part of the petition process, your US spouse will primarily need to demonstrate to USCIS that your marriage is genuine and made in good faith, rather than a sham for the purposes of unlawfully procuring a green card.
Your petitioning spouse will also be required to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, by way of evidence of their means, together with supporting documentation. This is to demonstrate that they have the ability to provide sufficient financial support such that you won’t become a public charge.
What are the marriage visa income requirements?
When applying for a US marriage visa, the household income of the petitioning spouse must be at least 125% of the current poverty level, as per the guidelines shown on Form I-864P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support, 2019.
This is calculated based on the sponsor’s household size although slightly different thresholds apply depending on where in the United States your spouse is resident. The household size includes the sponsor, any dependents, any relatives living with them, as well as you as the foreign spouse.
For the 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 125% of the current poverty level is set at:
- For 2 people: $21,137
- For 3 people: $26,662
- For 4 people: $32,187
- For 5 people: $37,712
- For 6 people: $43,237
- For 7 people: $48,762
- For 8 people: $54,287
For each additional person, you will need to add $5,525. For sponsors on active duty in the US armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse, the threshold is set at just 100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines.
For Alaska 125% of the current poverty level is set at:
- For 2 people: $26,412
- For 3 people: $33,325
- For 4 people: $40,237
- For 5 people: $47,150
- For 6 people: $54,062
- For 7 people: $60,975
- For 8 people: $67,887
For each additional person, you will need to add $6,912. For sponsors on active duty in the US armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse, again the threshold is set at just 100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines.
For Hawaii 125% of the current poverty level is set at:
- For 2 people: $24,325
- For 3 people: $30,675
- For 4 people: $37,025
- For 5 people: $43,375
- For 6 people: $49,725
- For 7 people: $56,075
- For 8 people: $62,425
For each additional person, you will need to add $6,350. For sponsors on active duty in the US armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse, again the threshold is set at just 100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines.
Based on the figures above, in most cases, assuming the petitioning spouse is not in active military service and the couple have no children, the minimum annual salary required to sponsor a spouse is $21,137.
What if my spouse cannot meet the financial requirements?
If your US spouse cannot meet the minimum income requirements using their earned income, s/he may add the cash value of any assets they own to make up any shortfall. This includes money in savings accounts, any property, as well as stocks and bonds. However, generally speaking, USCIS requires assets that “can be converted into cash within one year and without considerable hardship or financial loss to the owner.”
Further, to determine the amount of assets required to qualify, your spouse will need to subtract their household income from the minimum income requirement, ie; 125% of the poverty level for your family size. They must then prove the cash value of their assets is worth three times this difference.
By way of alternative option, your spouse may also count the income and assets of members of their household who are related to them by birth, marriage or adoption. However, to be able to include the income of such relatives, they must have lived with your spouse for the last six months or be listed as dependents on your spouse’s most recent federal tax return.
If you meet these criteria yourself, as the spouse of the sponsoring US citizen living in the same household, your spouse may also include the value of your income in their calculations. Additionally, they can include any assets that you own in any event.
Please note, where your spouse is seeking to rely upon the income and assets of a member of their household, any such relative must complete Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.