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How Much Do You Need to Earn to Sponsor a Spouse?

Tip of the Week #15

Today, we’ll answer one viewer’s question. They said they were a US Citizen who wasn’t working, and their spouse was living and working in Mexico. They asked if they had to file the Affidavit of Support, since they had no income, or just not do it.

I thought for this week’s Tip of the Week, I would answer that question and help you understand what your income needs to be in order to support your spouse.  

How Andres Mejer Law Can Help

My name is Andres Mejer and I’m an immigrant and immigration attorney.

I came to the US as a child and I lived without a legal status for a long time due to a dishonest immigration attorney.  

That’s why I became an immigration attorney — so I can help people the way I wish my family had been treated.

Providing an Affidavit of Support

If an application requires a form to be filed with it, you must file that form. 

USCIS isn’t going to “forget” that you didn’t submit the form. They aren’t going to excuse you from filing all the required forms. You are setting yourself up for a bad time if you don’t submit the required documents.

What happens if you don’t submit it?

Let’s talk about what could happen is that your application is rejected initially.  

In another video, I talk about your priority date. This is the date your application is received and accepted by USCIS.  

If your application is rejected, you don’t get a priority date until you re-submit the application correctly. So instead of getting in line, you’ve made it so all the people who DID send in the right forms, at the same time as you, get in line in front of you.  

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike when people push in line in front of me. But this one would be your fault, you’re saying “Please everyone step in front of me because I didn’t want to do it right.”  

Get yourself to the head of the line the quickest way possible by submitting everything that’s required when you send in your application.  

What if USCIS still accepts your application?

Let’s say USCIS accepts your application. But then they notice you didn’t submit the forms, so they send you an RFE or NOID.  

  • Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE is okay. You should prefer to NOT get an RFE but if you do, it’s not a terrible thing. It says USCIS wants to approve you but they need a little bit more information to do so.
    You still need to send the information to get your application approved. Again, if you deliberately submitted an application without the required information, so that you get an RFE, you are letting those who may have been behind you get ahead of you in the line.
  • Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). An NOID is worse. This says that they are planning on denying you, and you must prove to them why they shouldn’t. Your application is put on hold while you gather and submit the evidence which slows down your processing and approval.  

What if your case is denied?

Finally, the worst could happen. Your case could be denied. This is bad because you have now lost all that time, and all that money.

If USCIS denies your case, they don’t return the fees you paid. They were used to pay for someone to review your case.

If you want to submit your application again, you must come up with fees again and start the process again. You’re  putting yourself at the  end of the line AGAIN.

What’s the worst case scenario?

And there’s one other even worse possibility.  

You may be found guilty of fraud, if you deliberately don’t submit the documentation that you’re required to because you want to hide information from USCIS.  

As I’ve said in many videos, always be honest. Know that immigration shares information across government agencies. If you’ve filed taxes, they can see how much you have or haven’t made.

Should you submit an Affidavit of Support?

The answer to the viewer’s question is YES.

You must submit an Affidavit of Support whenever it is required with your application.  


Sponsoring a Spouse

Let’s talk about how much money you need to make to sponsor someone.  

You all probably know by now that the reason you have to make a certain amount of money. The Government does not want to have to support someone, with money/food stamps/or other public benefits, when they move to the US.  

The US Government wants people who can support themselves and if they can’t support themselves they want spouses who can support them.  

The minimum annual income requirement in 2021 to sponsor your spouse for a marriage-based green card is $21,550. This assumes that you, as the sponsoring spouse, are not active duty military and that neither of you have any children.  

As your family size increases the amount required goes up by $5,600 for each additional person and if you live in Alaska or Hawaii (which are more expensive to live in) it increases as well.

What sources of income can I include?

When filing your affidavit of support you include the total income you listed on your most current taxes. This may include: wages, salaries, retirement benefits, alimony, child support, dividends, or other income from legal sources.  

What about if you don’t meet the minimum income requirements?  

If you don’t meet the minimum income required don’t give up, there are other options. You can include income from other adult household members who are willing to agree to support the immigrant.  

What if you and the other adults in your household don’t meet the minimum requirements?  

You can get a sponsor who lives outside your household. They are called a Joint Sponsor. They must also agree  to accept full financial responsibility for the immigrant.  

The joint sponsor must file their own affidavit of support and they must meet the income requirements on their own.

That means that since they live outside your house they must show they can support their own family as well as the immigrant.

The co-sponsor doesn’t have to be a family member but they do need to be a green card holder or US citizen.

What about if your fiancée has a really good income in their own country?  

While that is great, unless the income will continue when they come to the US (either through that position or a new one they have lined up when they enter the US), they cannot count that income in the application.

What if I don’t meet the requirements and can’t get a joint sponsor?

One other way of meeting the minimum annual income requirements is by counting your assets. You can count your assets and the assets of your spouse but they must meet certain criteria.

If you are counting your foreign spouse’s assets, they must meet the following criteria.

  • They must be liquid (that means they are convertible to cash within one year). 
  • They must be able to move the assets to the US. 
  • The total assets must be FIVE times the difference between the spouse’s income and the poverty guidelines. Let’s say you made $12,000 on your last tax return. And the requirement is approximately $21,500 so you are short $9,500. The assets must equal $47,500 in order to be used to make up the difference.  
  • You can also include the value of your house or car but you must deduct any monies that are owed on them.  

Get Help From Our New Jersey Immigration Attorney!

Does this sound confusing and too hard to handle yourself?  

Don’t worry, we take care of all the calculations for you when you hire us to be your immigration attorney.  

If you need help, call us. If we can’t help you, we won’t take your money.

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