EP32: How To Calculate Household Size For Affidavit of Support


If you’re confused on how to calculate household size for affidavit of support, you’re not alone! Meeting the income requirement can either be easy or it can be difficult depending on your income and number of dependents.

In today’s podcast episode, you will learn how to calculate household size for the I-864 and I-134.

One thing that I always wondered was why USCIS didn’t make it easier for couples to understand how to calculate household size. It’s almost as if they assumed it is common sense to know this information.

However, based on the number of emails I get from couples who are very confused about how to correctly calculate household size, I’d say that it’s not common sense!

Before we get into the epsiode, let’s announce today’s winner of the Migrant Academy draw!
This week’s membership draw winner is…. Angel T!

Calcuclate Household Size For Affidavit of Support

When calculating your household size, it’s important to know who you should and shouldn’t include.

Making a mistake can be bad news! I’ve seen people count a dependent twice which then resulted in them not meeting the income requirement.

Once they figured out the mistake, it was too late because they case was denied!

So, who should be included when calculating household size?

  • The sponsor
    • As the sponsor, you should always include yourself since you will be relying on your income to support yourself.
  • Your spouse
    • You should also include your spouse (this usually is for someone who is petition a non-spouse).
  • Unmarried children under 21
    • You must include all unmarried children under 21 even if you don’t have custody of them.
    • You can exclude unmarried children under 21 if they have reached the age of majority in the country they reside and you don’t claim them as a dependent on your tax returns.
  • Other dependents listed on your tax returns
    • If you are claiming anyone else on your taxes, you should include them when calculating household size.
  • The beneficiary and their dependents
    • All beneficiarys and their depends should be included when calculating household size.
  • Additional relatives in your household
    • If you have adult children, parents or siblings living with you and depend on your income, you should include them as well.

Related Post: Calculating household size for the I-864 affidavit of support.

How Your Income Is Affected By Your Household Size

Simply making enough money is not enough.

The amount of income you make will be checked against your household size to determine if you can sponsor your fiance or spouse. So, it’s in your best interest to reduce the number of people that depend on your income.

Note that everyone you support financially must be included in the calculation of household size. It doesn’t matter whether they live with you or not.
We will discuss how divorce and custody can affect who is included in your household size a little later in this podcast.
Case Example:
Barbara is petitioning for her German husband Jonah. She has 2 children aged 4 and 8 while Jonah has no children and is the only one immigrating to the US.
When calculating the household size, Barbara includes her two children and herself as well as Jonah. This brings her total household size to 4 people.

What Happens If You Calculate Household Size Wrong?

As I said before, calculating your household size wrong can be devastating for your case.

The best thing to do for your case is to get it right the first time! Don’t risk being denied because of a simple misunderstanding!

One of the most common ways someone can miscalculate household size is to include a dependent twice by mistake. If you catch this quickly you can avoid a denial by fixing the mistake.

Remember, the more dependents you claim, the larger income needs to be.

If your income is on the lower side of the poverty guidelines, you should try to reduce the number of dependents that you claim or support. I know that this may not be possible for many of you so the other option is to increase your income.

Related Podcast: Applying for CR1 spouse visa when petition is unemployed.

Calculate Household Size With Divorce and Custody

With divorce in the US being so common, many couples will face issues related to an ex-spouse and child custody.

It’s important to note that an ex-spouse usually isn’t included in the calcualtion of household size. I say usually because I’ve seen cases where the ex-spouse still lived the sponsor!

If this is the case, the ex-spouse must be included when calculating household size.

Alimony and Calculating Household Size

If you are required to pay your ex-spouse alimony, this will affect the income you can claim and you will likely need to include them to calculate household size for affidavit of support.

However, if your ex-spouse still lives with you to help pay bills then this would actually complicate your spouse visa or fiance visa application! Try explaining that to the consular officer!

Child Custody and Calculating Household Size

Many petitioners that have children with an ex-spouse will be required to include them to calculate household size for affidavit of support.

Additionally, if they are don’t live with you and you do not have custody, you may be required to still include them. Yes, this can get really complicated but it’s important to get this right.

In most cases, you may be financially responsible for your child until they reach the age of 18.
Case Example:
Mike has 3 children with his ex-wife and is petitioning for his new wife Janet. Although Mike shares custody of his 3 children with his ex-spouse, he rarely gets to see them and he doesn’t claim them on his tax returns.
When calculating his household size, Mike includes his 3 children as well as Janet. This brings his household size to 5 people. Even though he currently lives alone and it will only be himself and his wife Janet living in his home, he still must include his children as dependents.

Limits To The Number Of Immigrants You Can Sponsor

The reason there are income requirements is so that you only sponsor the number of immigrants you can afford.

Sound simple, right? Well, USCIS wants to make sure that you can financially support every single person you are bringing to the United States.

However, there are ways to meet the income requirement if your household size it more than youc an handle.

  • Only sponsor the primary beneficiary
    • It may be a good idea to only sponsor the primary beneficiary at this time. Then when they get to the US, you can plan to petition for the seconary beneficiaries.
  • Petition teenage children later
    • If the beneficiary has older children, you could consider the option to leave them behind for the time being. Then, you can sponsor them later when your income is enough to sponsor them.
  • Find joint sponsor or combine household income
    • Finally, you can find a joint sponsor if you plan on sponsoring more immigrants than your income will allow. But, be careful if you are applying for the K1 visa since not all consulates accept a joint sponsor.
Case Example:
Jack is petition for his Filipino wife Sandra. She has 4 children aged 10-17 and she wants to bring them all with her to the US but Jack’s income isn’t enough to support them all.
After discussing their options, they decide to petition for the older two children at a later date. Sandra will then bring her younger two children with her when she enters the US. Once Sandra gets her green card and finds a job, they will petition for her other two children to move to the US to join them.

Final Thoughts on Calculating Household Size

After listening to this podcast, I’m hoping that you now have the information you need to calculate household size for affidavit of support correctly.

The main takeaways were:

  • Meeting income requirement is also based on your household size.
  • You must include everyone that is dependent on your income.
  • Divorce and custody issues can complicate your household size.
  • You should include your spouse, unmarried children under 21 and all immigrants you will or do sponsor.

Do you need more help with calculating your household size and meeting the income requirement? If so, check out the Migrant Academy and help the perosnalized help you need to submit a case that gets approved!

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