What Is the Minimum Income Requirement for a Fiance Visa?

Updated on June 20, 2023
At a Glance: To sponsor your foreign fiancé for a K-1 visa, you need to meet income requirements. Your stable gross earnings after business deductions must be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which is around $16,910 per year for a household of two people. After marriage, when the foreign spouse seeks permanent residence, the requirement increases to 125%, or around $21,137 per year. Your income must be stable and U.S.-based. Joint sponsorship is allowed in most cases, except at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Assets cannot be used for the K-1 visa petition but can be considered for permanent residence. It’s important to ensure you meet the income requirements before applying.

Many people are looking for their soulmate, and some happen to find them in the United States. For the foreign partner to be taken to the United States for a certain period prior to the marriage, he/she has to obtain a fiancé visa.

There were a total of 35,000 K1 visas issued back in 2017, so a good number of people are trying to move to the United States with the love of their life. Even still, you have to meet some requirements to obtain a fiancé visa as the sponsoring U.S. fiancé. That being said, what is the minimum income requirement for a fiancé visa?

Income Requirements for Fiancé Visa

Considering you’ll be having your foreign fiancé coming into the U.S. to marry you and ultimately live with you, you need funds to support the future spouse. This is one of the requirements for bringing your fiancé in the States. After all, your loved one doesn’t work or live in the country, meaning he/she will need financial support.

This is usually challenging for fiancé visa sponsors because they worry they do not meet the requirements. In order to be successful, you will have to make sure that your stable gross earnings after business deductions are more than 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Otherwise, you may not qualify for sponsorship.

What’s more, once you and your fiancé are married and the foreign spouse seeks permanent residence, the requirement increases, going to 125%. Bear in mind that the earnings have to be stable enough, meaning you need to have an income that can be maintained so you can support your fiancé in the long-term.

Overall, your stable earnings need to be at least $16,910 per year in order to support a household with two people. On the other hand, when the fiancé becomes a permanent resident, you would have to earn at least $21,137 every year. These are the minimum requirements. However, you should know that even if you meet these requirements, it doesn’t mean your petition cannot be denied for financial reasons – so, you shouldn’t rely on it fully.

As the petitioning U.S. citizen fiancé, you will be the one having to submit the income requirements for the K-1 visa. They will be submitted twice – the first time, you will do it during the consular process that brings your foreign fiancé to the U.S. The second time will be when the K-1 adjustment of status process is happening.

For the first income requirement submission, you will have to submit the I-134 Affidavit of Support whereas, for the second time, you’ll have to submit the I-864 Affidavit of Support. But the adjustment of status will only occur if you didn’t marry within 90 days of the fiance’s arrival to the U.S.

Stable Earnings Defined

While you may have a general idea of what “stable” earnings refer to, you may still not be sure. So, you might want to know exactly what it means before you start the process. As such, here is what a stable earning can be:

  • Retirement earnings
  • Social Security retirement benefits
  • The salary you earn as long as it’s a U.S.-based one, and only if you have a permanent job, and not a temporary or seasonal one
  • Unemployment benefits only when combined with a new job; otherwise they cannot be stable earnings
  • Traditional types of earnings reported on the IRS Form 1040, like interest income and capital gains
  • VA benefits
  • Social security permanent disability benefits

Other than that, you cannot qualify if you have benefits that are not among these types of earnings. Welfare benefits, for instance, are not considered earnings and will thus not count as such. If you get them, you may be disqualified from sponsoring your fiancé in the first place. Social security SSI benefits also do not count as earnings. Lastly, you may earn social security temporary disability benefits that count as earnings, but are not stable ones.

U.S.-based Income Requirement

You’re required to work in the U.S. and earn your income in the U.S. – otherwise, your income may not be considered stable. For instance, if you are working overseas and meet your fiancé during that time, it could cause some issues if you want to return to the U.S. together with the significant other.

Luckily, there are a few exceptions to the rule, such as a temporary overseas assignment by a U.S.-based company, income from a Department of Defense contractor, or U.S. military earnings. Keep in mind that the former only applies sometimes.

Tax Returns of Sponsor

You need to be able to prove that you are financially capable of supporting your foreign fiancé(e) when he/she comes to the States. In order to do that, you need to bring an important document, respectively the IRS tax return for the most recent year.

It makes sense why this document would be needed: it shows how stable your income is. In some cases, though, some consulates and embassies want sponsors to submit tax returns for the past three years. The documents will have to be provided at the end of case processing, though.

Joint Sponsorship

In order to support the foreign fiancé(e), you can also consider joint sponsorship. This means that you can add one of your parents, for instance, as a sponsor. It’s very beneficial for people who are just out of college or at the beginning of their journey with the job and are not earning a huge amount of money.

You should know that most U.S. embassies and consulates accept joint sponsorships to a sponsor’s application, as it will help him/her meet the minimum earnings requirement. The only one that doesn’t accept joint financial sponsors is the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. Even though this scenario is a possible one, it is still preferred to be the only sponsor for your fiancé(e) and be able to take care of them on your own.

Assets in Place of Earnings

You may be thinking that if you don’t have enough earnings to meet the minimum requirements, you can use assets in place of them. Sadly, though, you cannot use assets for your K-1 visa petition – only earnings are accepted.

At the same time, if you are marrying your fiancé, you can use assets in place of earnings when you seek permanent residence for him/her. Your total assets should still meet the minimum earnings requirement, though, respectively be more than 300% of the minimum earnings requirement for an entire year.

Before you even think of submitting a K-1 visa application, you will be better off making sure you qualify under the 125% requirement.

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Having a decent income is a must if you want to marry a foreigner and bring him/her to the U.S. under a K-1 visa. After all, you are the supporter, so you must have enough funds to take care of your fiancé. In order to meet the requirements, you must gain enough money and have a stable income. Without a stable income, you may consider assets as long as they are more than 300% of the minimum annual earnings requirement.

Hopefully, we were able to help you understand the K-1 visa minimum income requirement and prepare for the process.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.