What Is The Income Requirement For The Affidavit Of Support Form I-134?
Looking to petition your foreign fiancé(e) so that he/she can move to the US and marry you? One of the forms you will need to fill out is the I-134 Affidavit of Support. So let’s take a look at the income requirement for the affidavit of support form I-134 and make sure you are financially able to sponsor your fiance(e). This form a little different than the one that you will fill out to adjust status, but it generally does the same thing. Basically, the US government wants to make sure that you will financially support your fiance(e) once she gets here.
Makes sense right? Well, the interesting thing is that the I-134 is not really legally binding. Yup, you heard that right. Even if you did not financially support your fiance(e), the government couldn’t legally use the I-134 against you in court – it wouldn’t hold up.
On the other hand, the I-864 Affidavit of Support (the one you submit during adjustment of status) is definitely legally binding and the government can come after your income and assets. But, just because it’s not binding doesn’t mean you won’t have to submit it. Once your fiance(e)’s I-129F petition is approved, you as the US citizen will be asked to fill out the I-134 detailing your employment, income, assets and bank accounts.
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USCIS might just know more about you than your fiancé(e).
What Is The Income Requirement For The I-134 Form?
The USCIS requires that your income meet a specific minimum before you will be eligible to have your K-1 visa approved. This is to ensure that your fiance(e) doesn’t arrive in the US and immediately need government assistance (foods stamps, WIC, public housing). Most people would agree that this is prudent because we shouldn’t have anyone sponsor a foreign immigrant if they can’t provide for them, right?
The income requirement differs based on whether you are currently in the military or a veteran/civilian.
- If you are currently in the military you will only need to show income at 100% of the poverty guidelines.
- If you are a veteran or all other sponsors, you will need to show income at 125% of the poverty guideline.
2017 Federal Poverty Guideline:
100% Poverty Guideline
Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
125% Poverty Guideline
For all other sponsors
So for example: if you household size will be 3 (you, your child and your fiancee), then your income must be at least $25,200 for the last 3 years. This will be proven by tax transcripts from the IRS so make sure that what you put on the I-134 if accurate. Military personnel in the same situation will only need to have income at $20,160 (veterans must use the 125% because they are not active duty.)
If your income does not meet this requirement, you have the option of using a joint sponsor who does meet the income requirement on their own.
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Using A Joint Sponsor For The I-134 Form
A joint sponsor is someone who will be able to prove that they meet the income requirement for the I-134 form and they are willing to sign the document stating that they will financially support the intending immigrant. Some people find it difficult to find someone they trust that is willing to submit all of their private financial details to the USCIS, but it may be easier if they were a family member (mom, dad, uncle).
Many students find themselves in this exact situation because they are currently not working because they are in school. Self-employed individuals may also need to use a joint sponsor if they cannot prove their income for the last 3 years met the 125% of the poverty guidelines. There are other situations that require a joint sponsor but they all come under the umbrella of:
- Cant prove income – also known as hustling, under the table, unclaimed income
- Student – full-time/par-time student not working or making very little
- Unemployed – unemployment benefits will not be enough to get you at 125%
- Self-employed – business expenses may be higher than income, business losses
Even if you are currently unemployed, the USCIS will not penalize you because you have no job. They just want to make sure someone is on the hook to feed and care for the intending immigrant. So don’t worry about unemployment or no income as long as you can find a joint sponsor.
IRS Tax Transcripts and Not Filing
If you haven’t filed your taxes in previous years – you better do it now. Not because I think the IRS hit squad will come after you (hmm they might), but because you need to use your tax returns as supporting evidence. If your income meets the 125% of the poverty guidelines, you will need to submit supporting evidence with your I-134 and this includes the tax transcripts.
Notice that I said tax transcripts and not the returns? This is a mistake that many people make and can cost them an addition 1-2 months resolving an RFE. You can order tax transcripts directly from the IRS website and it takes about 10 days to receive by mail.
If you were not required to file taxes, you can submit an additional sheet that explains your reason why you were exempt. Some common reasons are:
- Insufficient income – if you made less than the exemption amount, you don’t need to file your taxes.
- Non-taxable income – if your only income was non-taxable, you don’t need to file your taxes.
That’s it, if you do not fall under any of the above situations, you must file. Even if you lived abroad for those years and make income there, you still need to file due to the IRS clause that stats that worldwide income is taxable even if you didn’t reside in the US.
US is the only country that taxes worldwide income!
Alright, now that we know what is required to file and submit the I-134 form, let’s talk about alternatives to using income.
Using Assets Instead Of Income On The I-134 Form
If you have plenty of assets that be used instead of assets, you have the option to include this and you will not be asked to provide tax transcripts. You will need to submit evidence of the value of your assets and their location. Not all assets are acceptable though, for example, a house cannot be used to show your assets because it is not liquid.
Only liquid assets are accepted by the USCIS:
- rental income
- dividend income
- savings account balance
- stocks, bonds, CODs
- immigrants savings, assets
But, here’s the catch: your assets must be 5X the minimum income requirement! This is where most people cant get past because that is a lot of assets to prove. So let’s take a look at two hypothetical situation:
- You have a household of 3, no employment income but you have dividend income of $500/month and a savings account balance of $86,000. Do you qualify? Answer: No, because your total is $92,000 and you need an asset value of $126,000 (25,200×5).
- You have a household of 3, no employment income but you have rental income of $4500/month and a savings account balance of $75,000. Do you qualify? Answer: Yes, because your total is $129,000 and you need asset value of $126,000 (25,200×5).
There you have it, everything you need to know to fill out the I-134 form correctly. Make sure to attach the supporting documents to the form before you send it off (and sign it!). You and your fiance(e) will be together in no time, just sit back and relax.
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Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community, the My Path To Citizenship Blog and Podcast.
After successfully navigating the hurdles of US immigration. She now dedicates her time to helping other couples achieve their goals of starting their new life together in the US.