Using beneficiary income

Using Beneficiary’s Income for I-864 Affidavit of Support?

Today, families need two incomes to support their households and it’s no different when it comes to sponsoring your spouse. Using the beneficiary income as a way to supplement your own on the form can be a great option, but is it possible? Although the minimum income requirement of the affidavit of support (I-864) is relatively low, it can still be tough for some US citizens to meet. So, if you’re wondering whether you can use the intending immigrants current income – you’ve come to the right place!

Sponsoring a relative requires proof that you can financially support them once they arrive in the United States. Makes sense right? We don’t want anyone to come to the US expecting handouts and welfare. No, I’m not a republican. I just happen to think that immigrants are some of the hardest working people out there and they WANT to work. The actual income guidelines for what USCIS considers “enough” income for your household size can be a bit tricky. Luckily, they aren’t requiring you to be making six figures but you must be making 125% above the poverty line.

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Listed below is the actual income requirements for 2017:

2017 Federal Poverty Guideline

Household Size


100% Poverty Guideline

Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces

125% Poverty Guideline

For all other sponsors

2 $16,240 $20,300
3 $20,420  $25,525
4 $24,600  $30,750
5 $28,780  $35,975
6 $32,960  $41,200
7 $37,140  $46,425
8 $41,320  $51,650

As you can see from the numbers above, it isn’t impossible to meet this requirement. But for those US citizens that are students, stay at home moms, self-employed or unemployed; it can be a hurdle too high to get over. If your income does not meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support, don’t worry, you can still sponsor your spouse. The first step is to know exactly how much you made in the last 3 years so go to the website and request your official tax transcripts.

Once you have this information, you are ready to then calculate your total assets. The reason you want to find out what your assets are worth is because you can use assets to supplement your income as long as it is 5x the different. Let’s take an example:

  • You are a household of 3 (you, your child and your intending immigrant spouse).
  • The income requirement for a household of 3 is $25,200.00.
  • Your annual income last year was $22,500.00 (less than the requirement.

In this situation, your income is short by $2,700.00 so if you want to use assets to supplement your income you will need 5X $2,700.00 = $13,500 and these assets must be liquid.

What are liquid assets? They are assets that can quickly and easily turn into cash. This means that your home, car and furniture cannot be used as “liquid assets”. You CAN count the assets that your intending spouse (beneficiary) will be bring with them.

  • Cash
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Savings
  • Certificate of deposit

Read this article for more information about using savings instead of income on I-864 form.

Using The Beneficiary’s Income

If your assets can’t be used to make up the difference in your income shortfall, you may be able to use the beneficiary’s income. To use their income you will need to list them as a dependent on your most recent federal tax return OR they must have lived with you for the last 6 months.

They must also complete a Form I-864A, called the “Contract between Sponsor and Household Member”. If the beneficiary you are sponsoring meets these requirements, you can include the value of their income and assets, but the immigrant does not need to complete Form I-864A unless he or she has accompanying family members.

The above information was taken straight from the USCIS website and I tried my best to put it in plain English, something they notoriously lack.

I recently received an email from a reader stating that she is sponsoring her parents but she was a student and had no income. Her parent’s both worked in the US on work visas and I told her that her parents would need to reside with her for 6 months before sponsoring them. Another requirement was that her parent’s income must continue for the foreseeable future.

Since USCIS is concerned about bringing people here that may fall into poverty and homelessness, it makes to have criteria in place to avoid this. Looking at the income numbers above it shouldn’t be too difficult for most people to meet. But wages have been stagnant and the real unemployment is still quite high so it isn’t going to be easy for a lot of Americans.

If all else fails – get a cosponsor to help you bring your spouse over. They don’t even have to be a family member. Pretty much anyone who pays taxes and meets the income requirement is qualified. It’s just easier to have family be the cosponsor because it may be difficult to get a coworker to hand you 3 years of their tax returns!

Can An Ex-Spouse Be A Cosponsor?

This is an interesting scenario that I came across recently. I believe that USCIS will accept an ex-wife or husband to help you sponsor your next spouse, but I suppose there will be some interesting questions at the interview.

“Why is your ex-wife helping you get another wife?”

“Uh, we are on good terms and she wants me to be happy.”

“No, we believe you are looking for slave labor from overseas… denied”

Okay – this may by my wild imagination but consulate officers are a very skeptical bunch. It seems like they automatically believe everyone is committing fraud and you must prove otherwise. There is no such as thing as “innocent until proven guilty” when it comes to the immigration process. This is especially so for those of you applying from developing countries… I really feel for you because the deck is stacked against you.

I read so many stories of automatic denials within minutes of the interview, personal attacks, trick questions and more. You really need to go into the interview knowing more about the process than the CO themselves.

In Conclusion

If you don’t currently meet the income requirement for the affidavit of support you have a few options:

  • Make more money asap
  • Use assets to fill the gap
  • Use beneficiary income if qualified
  • Get a cosponsor

This immigration process is not for the faint of heart. It can be stressful and downright scary. But, I will say this, it was the best thing to happen to me! I was able to be with my husband and start a life together. That is something I’m very thankful for and it was worth all that we have went through. If you get an unfavorable decision on your case please don’t give up hope – get mad. Yes, I said mad.

No one has the right to decide your fate and you need to fight for your love. Learn as much as you can about the process and use this knowledge to get approved!


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So I don’t get to the minimum this year, but this is the deal I share my household with my mother and brother both work and contribute, does that means my household income is the combined 3 of the gross income tax w2s.


Hi Ayan — the sponsoring spouse does not meet the income requirements in our relationship (But the beneficiary makes more than enough). We’ve been living together for more than 6 months, but the beneficiary is the only name on the lease… If both names are on utility bills and each person’s tax returns, is that enough to prove last 6 months of cohabitation?