Income Requirements and Poverty Guidelines for 2016 (updated) have been updated and can be found at the following pages.

Satisfying minimum income requirements is necessary for visa issuance, but often people who meet the requirements are still denied the visa for two reasons:

  1. The U.S. citizen or joint sponsor does not have stable earning or
  2. The immigration officer distrusts the relationship or will not regret denying the visa because of how the U.S. citizen lives.

Having a joint sponsor often does not make a good impression. The income is part of the presentation of the general case. Financial disclosures make an impression on immigration officers, positive or negative. It helps to be working with a qualified immigration attorney on immigration filings and file correctly the first time. Some mistakes are irreversible and will put your family member at risk. There is a great value in working with a qualified immigration attorney for a reasonable fee since you only want to go through this process one time, if possible.

Call Us Now — we will be happy to discuss your fiance visa, marriage visa or family immigration needs & how our legal expertise & immigration solutions may best assist you and your loved one(s).

Call U.S. toll free 1-888-483-0311 (outside U.S. +1 212-483-0311) or use our free consultation form.

We have clients in all 50 States with family members from all over the world. We are able to work with you on your immigration matters from the convenience of your location whether you are in the U.S. or currently residing abroad.

Stable Earnings

The U.S. citizen petitioner must have stable U.S. employment over the minimum required for green card, fiance visa, and marriage visa processing. Generally, you must show enough income during a calendar year so that your tax returns will show more than the minimum required.

The type of work has a bearing on stability. Income that is just over the minimum required is less stable than a greater income level. Income from seasonal work will tend to be less stable than full time employment throughout the year. Unemployment earnings count as earnings. However, unemployment is not stable earnings. Unemployment earnings combined with a new job can possibly show stability. Retirement benefits, VA benefits, Social Security retirement or disability are all good sources of earnings, but not SSI. Welfare payments can disqualify the U.S. citizen petitioner from immigrating a foreigner.

It is commonly thought you are required to produce 3 years worth of tax returns, and some consulates do in fact require this. Regardless, your most recent personal income tax returns are the most important core document under consideration. Prior years are only relevant to help show stability and a history of earnings. The amount of income in prior years is not generally very important.

For a fiance visa, income must be proven at the end of case processing. For marriage visa processing, income must be proved up about six months after initial submissions are made. This gives you time on the job to build stable earnings while your case is in process.

U.S. Based Earnings

The income must be U.S. based earnings. An exception is for U.S. military stationed or on deployment overseas, and also for Department of Defense Contractors. Very few others qualify based on earnings abroad. Sometimes, we can finesse a case where the U.S. citizen is working abroad on temporary assignment, but is paid by a U.S. company.

Assets in Lieu of Earnings

For marriage visas and green cards only, it can be possible to show enough liquid assets and home equity as a substitute for earnings. The amount of equity required is more than three times earnings. Assets in lieu of earnings is generally not allowed for fiance visa processing. Assets can help show stability where earnings are modest.

Financial Cosponsorship

Nearly all consulates will allow a financial cosponsor for either fiance or spousal visa processing. A notable exception is the U.S. consulate in Manila who will not currently allow a financial cosponsor for fiance visa processing. In Manila, you must qualify on your own or your fiance will be denied the fiance visa. A financial cosponsor is allowed for all marriage visa processing by rule as well as for stateside adjustment of status to become a permanent resident green card holder.

Amount of Earnings

Income is gross earnings after business deductions as reported on your personal income tax returns. The amount of income required is based on poverty guidelines published by the Department of Health and Human Services, and is based on the total number of dependents of you and your fiance or spouse. If using a financial cosponsor, all cosponsor dependents must be counted.

Fiance Visa

For fiance visa processing, you must have stable earnings more than the base income level set by the HHS.

Marriage Visa

For marriage visa processing, U.S. citizen petitioners must have stable earnings more than 125 % of HHS poverty guidelines.

Exception: In all cases, U.S. military personnel may earn at or over the base levels set by HHS. Contact us to get more detailed advice.

Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2016

2016 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Persons in family / household Fiance visa Marriage visa
2 $16,020 $20,025
3 $20,160 $25,200
4 $24,300 $30,375
5 $28,440 $35,550
6 $32,580 $40,725
7 $36,730 $45,913
8 $40,890 $51,113

For families / households with more than 8 persons, add $4,160 for a fiance visa and $5,200 for a marriage visa for each additional person.

2016 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska

Persons in family / household Fiance visa Marriage visa
2 $20,020 $25,025
3 $25,200 $31,500
4 $30,380 $37,975
5 $35,560 $44,450
6 $40,740 $50,925
7 $45,920 $57,400
8 $51,120 $63,900

For families / households with more than 8 persons, add $5,200 for a fiance visa and $6,500 for a marriage visa for each additional person.

2016 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii

Persons in family / household Fiance visa Marriage visa
2 $18,430 $23,038
3 $23,190 $23,038
4 $27,950 $23,038
5 $32,710 $40,888
6 $37,470 $46,838
7 $42,230 $52,788
8 $47,010 $58,763

For families / households with more than 8 persons, add $4,780 for a fiance visa and $5,975 for a marriage visa for each additional person.

We are here to help. Call to discuss your situation. Consider attorney representation carefully before proceeding with immigration processing. Initial consultation is free.

Call U.S. toll free 1-888-483-0311 (outside U.S. +1 212-483-0311) or use our free consultation form.