One important aspect of filling out a family petition for immigration to the United States is the Affadavit of Support. This can be especially troublesome if you are unemployed or underemployed and trying to bring a relative into the United States as your income may not be high enough to meet the support requirements set up by Customs and Immigration. So how can you tell if your income is high enough – and how can you show that you have assets beyond your income?
What Is The Current Income Requirement
U.S. Customs and Immigration keeps an up-to-date list of the financial requirements for financial support. For almost everyone, this is set at 125% of the poverty line; the exception is active duty members of the military, who can petition for a spouse or child and show only 100% of the poverty line as income. Be sure to count every person you are petitioning for as well as yourself under household size; for example, if you were bringing a wife and four children, your household size would be six and your income requirement would be $40,712.
What Can You Do If Your Income Isn't High Enough
If your income isn't high enough to meet the requirements, that doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do. It's possible to count non-income assets as proof that you are capable of financially supporting your family members. However, this is more complicated as there are strict rules about how to count assets.
First, you will need to determine the difference between your income and the required income. Continuing the previous example, if you made $30,712, then your income difference is $10,000. This is what needs to be made up in assets. Unfortunately, assets are only counted as a fraction of their estimated value. If you are bringing a spouse or a minor child, the value of assets is cut to one-third; for other family petitions, it is cut to one-fifth.
So, to bring your spouse and children into the United States if you have an income difference of $10,000, you would need to be able to show $30,000 in assets.
Requirements To Count An Asset
First of all, any assets you count must be easily convertible to cash. If it would take more than a year to convert an asset to cash, it shouldn't be counted. Second, it can't create a hardship for you to convert the asset to cash. Stocks and bonds, for instance, make good assets; a retirement account that can't be accessed without penalties does not.
The exception to this is your home, which you can count as an asset even though you might consider it a hardship to sell it. However, keep in mind that a mortgaged home must have the value of the mortgage subtracted from the value of the home.
How To Value Your Assets
The value of assets is determined by what you could sell them for, not their purchase price. For your home, use the appraised tax value. For other objects, a professional appraisal will usually be necessary to determine their value. Balances in bank accounts can be used, but you must show that the balance is stable by submitting your bank statements for the past year.