How Much Income a K-1 Fiancé Visa Applicant's Sponsor Needs to Show

Fiancé visa applicants can be asked to show that their U.S. citizen sponsor is able to support them at 100% of the federal Poverty Guidelines levels.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

The K-1 fiancé visa is an unusual one. Although technically it's a temporary, "nonimmigrant" visa (allowing only a 90-day stay in the United States), its purpose is not merely to allow the K-1 visa holder to enter the U.S. and marry the U.S. citizen sponsor, but to allow them to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence) if desired.

Most nonimmigrant visas require, in terms of financial standards, that the foreign national has enough money to cover their short stay in the United States. But fiancé visa applicants must show a bit more, as discussed here.

What Are the Required Income Levels to Sponsor a K-1 Visa Applicant?

Again because of the hybrid nature of this visa, the exact guidelines depend in part on the consular officer conducting the visa interview. Each consulate has a lot of discretion in evaluating the income needed for a fiancé visa to be approved.

Some consular officers may simply apply the "eyeball" test for fiancés—if the applicant looks young and healthy, that's enough to justify granting the K-1 visa (which is, after all, good for only 90 days and comes only with the requirement that the couple marry, not that the immigrant apply for a green card—they can always choose to return home after the wedding).

Other consular officers however, perhaps thinking about the long-term, might require fiancé visa applicants to show that their sponsor is able to support them at 100% of the federal Poverty Guidelines. These guidelines are published annually and can be found on Form I-864P, published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In early 2024, for example, you'd see that for a household of two, the U.S. sponsor would need to show an income and assets of $25,550.

The U.S. sponsor might be asked to submit an Affidavit of Support on USCIS Form I-134 (which is much shorter than the I-864 Affidavit that sponsors of immigrants for green cards must fill out).

Using Form I-134 Affidavit of Support When Sponsoring a Fiancé

Both the advantage and the disadvantage of the Form I-134 Affidavit of Support is that it is not considered to have much legal weight. In other words, although a U.S. government agency could take a sponsor to court to enforce it, they never seem to do so, and many doubt they would win anyway.

That's an advantage because makes it easier for the U.S. citizen fiancé to breathe easy when signing the form. The citizen can feel fairly certain that doing so won't endanger their financial future if, for example, the marriage never happens.

It's also a disadvantage: Because U.S. consular officials know that the I-134 affidavit is hardly worth the paper it's written on, they might choose to disregard it and rely on other facts about the U.S. sponsor's financial condition. In most cases, however, a signed I-134 from the U.S. fiancé showing income or assets at or above 100% of the poverty level for the household size will be all that's needed.

Thinking ahead, however, realize that the information provided on Form I-134 or otherwise will stay in the applicant's immigration file. And, within a mere few months of arriving in the U.S., the applicant should have married and might choose to apply for a U.S. green card ("adjustment of status" or AOS).

So, it is to the fiancé's advantage if, at the time of the consular interview, the sponsor can show an income level at or above 125% of the minimum in the guidelines. (Showing anything less at this point could raise questions during the eventual green card interview in the United States.) In addition, some consular officers are particularly strict in dealing with fiancé visas, and will be more likely to deny the visa if the sponsor's income is not at the 125% level.

Joint Sponsors Are Not an Option for Low-Income K-1 Sponsors

If you, as the U.S. citizen sponsor, are having trouble meeting the consulate's standards for getting your foreign-born fiancé a K-1 visa, you won't be able to have a "joint sponsor" sign an affidavit of support, the way you can when it comes time to apply for the green card.

However, if you have family members who live with you and have income or assets that could be used to support the fiancé, definitely let the consulate know about that. The best way might be for that person in your household to fill out and sign an I-134 form, with proof of income and/or assets. Although the consular officer is not required to accept the I-134, it might help convince them that the fiancé will be taken care of in the United States.

When the Foreign Fiancé Can Begin Working in the United States

One step that could ultimately help with the binational couple's income situation is if the K-1 entrant begins to work in the United States. Unfortunately, that will require applying to USCIS for a work permit (on Form I-765). The backups in getting these approved are so long that it doesn't make sense to apply while still in K-1 status. After marrying and applying to adjust status, however, the foreign national should have some time in which to find a job and improve their income situation before USCIS makes a decision on their adjustment application.

Getting Legal Help

Although hiring an experienced immigration attorney to handle your K-1 visa case is an added expense, the attorney can analyze the facts of your personal situation, spot any potential legal issues that need to be dealt with, prepare the paperwork, and monitor the progress toward approval. This can save you delays and setbacks.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you

Talk to an Immigration attorney.

We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you