The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulates the entry of foreigners into the United States, issuing a specific immigrant visa that caters to a migrant's specific status. One of these visas is the spousal CR1 visa, which foreigners married to US citizens to obtain green cards. However, a petitioner (US citizen sponsor or lawful permanent resident) must first file an Affidavit of Support, which requires them to satisfy CR1 visa income requirements to demonstrate their financial capability to cater to their partner's green card application.

This article provides a deeper understanding of a CR1 visa, the financial requirements you must meet for your petition to get approved, as well as how you can find an online immigration lawyer for your case.

What is a CR1 Visa?

If you're a US citizen or permanent resident card holder, and you want to sponsor your foreign spouse to obtain a green card by marriage, they (your partner) must first obtain a CR1 (Conditional Resident) visa. The USCIS issues the spousal visa to applicants who've lived abroad for two years after marrying a US citizen by the time they arrive in the US with their green card. However, applicants can only apply for an immigration visa after their US sponsor has received a visa number from the National Visa Center following a petition approval.

It's regarded as "conditional" because, after two years of staying in the United States, the beneficiary and their US citizen spouse can apply to remove the conditions from the green card. Once approved, they'll receive a 10-year permanent residence card. For example, if your spouse entered the US with an H1b visa, they'll now receive an H1b to marriage green card.

How do I apply to remove the conditions in a CR1 visa?

If your spouse has conditional permanent residency or conditional green card divorce, you can "Petition to Remove Conditions" by filing Form I-751 for them to obtain US citizenship through marriage. The timeline for filing the form is 90 days. You'll need to submit the following:

Your foreign spouse must apply for the CR1 visa through a consular process at their local US Embassy or Consulate. With that visa, they can live and work in the United States.

How Long Does it Take to Process a CR1 Visa?

CR1 visa processing takes 7-10 months, including the green card marriage interview questions. However, the marriage green card timeline may extend, depending on the circumstances of each case.

Most cases delay because applicants don't follow the requirements and instructions carefully, thus filing inaccurate submissions. Sometimes, US sponsors, or petitioners, fail to meet the Affidavit of Support requirements. In other cases, visa applications are subject to administrative processing, which takes additional time after the spouse visa interview by a consular official.

What are the CR1 Visa Income Requirements?

The minimum annual income requirement for sponsoring a spouse for a green card is $22,887, assuming that you're a US citizen or green card holder and not active military personnel. This income requirement increases depending on your family size. The amount is also higher for petitioners in Alaska and Hawaii than their counterparts in the 48 contiguous, the District of Columbia, and other US territories.

For your foreign-based spouse to qualify for a green card, you - the US sponsor - must assume financial responsibility. To satisfy your financial obligation, you must file Form I-864 (officially known as the "Affidavit of Support").

The table below shows the 2022 minimum CR1 visa income requirements for most sponsors: 125% of Federal Poverty Guidelines

No. of persons in your household (including you and your spouse)

For sponsors in the 48 contiguous states, D.C., and US territories

For sponsors in Alaska

For sponsors in Hawaii

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 For any additional individual
$22,887 $28,787 $34,687 $40,587 $46,487 $52,387 $58,287 $5,900
$28,612 $35,987 $43,362 $50,737 $58,112 $65,487 $72,862 $7,375
$26,325 $33,112 $39,900 $46,687 $53,475 $60,262 $67,050 $6,787

If you're a military sponsor, the USCIS imposes slightly lower CR1 visa income requirements than non-military sponsors. Below are the 2022 minimum annual income requirements for military sponsors: 100% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.  

Number of individuals in your household (including you and your spouse)

For sponsors in the 48 contiguous states, D.C., and US territories

For sponsors in Alaska

For sponsors in Hawaii

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 For any additional individual
$18,310 $23,030 $27,750 $32,470 $37,190 $41,910 $46,630 $4,720
$22,890 $28,790 $34,690 $40,590 $46,490 $52,390 $58,290 $5,900
$21,060 $26,490 $31,920 $37,350 $42,780 $48,210 $53,640 $5,430

The number of persons in your household is calculated as follows:

  • Yourself - US sponsor/petitioner
  • Your spouse (green card applicant)
  • Any unmarried children below 21 years (or the age of majority in their home country)
  • Any person you claim as a dependent on your tax return
  • Anyone else applying for a green card and accompanying your spouse to the US (for example, your spouse's minor children)
  • Is anyone else you're sponsoring on a separate Affidavit of Support

What Source of Income Requirements Can I Include in my CR1 Visa Petition?

Generally, your annual income as a US sponsor is the same amount you reported on your US federal (not state) income tax return for your latest tax filing year. As of the 2021 tax filing year, this amount is your "Total Income" as listed on line 9 of IRS Form 1040. That figure may include:

  • Salaries and wages
  • Retirement benefits
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Dividends
  • Interest earned; and
  • Other legal sources of income

Can I Include Other Family Members' Income?

It's not always guaranteed that your annual income will meet the minimum required figure. In that case, you can include income from other adult members in your household, including your parents, siblings, and children. However, you can only include their income as long as they are inclined to make that income available to support your spouse's pursuit of a green card.

However, the other household member must complete and file Form I-864A (officially called the "Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member") to assume this financial commitment. It's often recommended to only include the income of one additional household member to avoid receiving a USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE).

Can I Include Income from Other Individuals Who Aren't Members of My Household?

If the combined income from other adult members in your household can't meet the minimum annual income requirement, you can include income from other individuals outside your household.

As the sponsor, you can seek help from a secondary co-sponsor/joint sponsor - an individual who doesn't live in your household and has no problem assuming full financial responsibility for your spouse who's applying for a green card through marriage. The joint sponsor must independently complete and submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and solely meet the minimum annual income requirements listed above. For example, if you and your household are required to have a combined $22,887 in annual income, your co-sponsor and their household must have at least $22,887 of their own annual income.

While the joint sponsor need not be part of your household, they must be a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident living in the United States.

Is My Foreign Income Going to Matter?

For petitioners currently living outside the US, foreign income doesn't count towards the minimum annual income requirement, unless they can prove that they will carry on with their occupation once they enter the United States, or they have a job lined up whose pay satisfies the minimum income requirements.

If you work remotely or are transferring offices within a multinational corporation (for example, transferring from the Microsoft Office in London to their Seattle office), it's a guarantee that you're going to retain your job once you move back to the United States.

How Much of My Assets Must I Include?

If your total household income does not meet the required minimum figure, you can leverage cash or liquidated assets as a substitute for income. You can also include other household members' assets, so long as they meet the following criteria:

  • They're related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption
  • They were either listed as dependent in your latest tax filing or lived with you for the past six months

Generally, if you're a US citizen, the assets must be worth at least three times the minimum amount indicated in the poverty guidelines.

Below are the steps you can take to figure out how much of your assets you'll need to include in your Affidavit of Support in place of income.

  1. Check the minimum annual income requirement for your household size in the tables above.
  2. Subtract your actual household annual income from the minimum required figure
  3. Multiply the difference by three (3); the result is the total value of household assets you'll need to meet the minimum financial requirement.

Consider this example: Suppose a household comprises four individuals living in Illinois, with a US-citizen sponsor and a total combined annual income of $30,000. From the first table above, 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household are $34,687 per year.

Here's how the equivalent asset value is calculated:

  • Step 1 and 2: $34,687 (min. annual income for a four-person household) - $30,000 (actual household income) = $4,687 (shortfall)
  • Step 3: $4,687 (shortfall) x 3 (for US-citizen sponsor) = $14,061 (the minimum required asset value you need to include)

From this example, you'll need to show at least $14,061 in assets to qualify your foreign-based spouse for a green card.

Can I Include My Relative's Assets?

According to the official I-864 guidelines, you can include the assets of your foreign-based spouse, regardless of where they live - whether in the United States or abroad - even if their assets are located outside the US. Nonetheless, you can only include the visa applicant's assets if they satisfy the following requirements:

  • Their assets must be liquidated (i.e., convertible into cash within a year). Examples of such assets include life insurance policies, stocks, certificates of deposits, and homeownership/equity.
  • The sponsored person must be able to move the assets from the country in which they're located to the US - only up to the maximum value of the assets allowed by their home country

If the sponsor is a lawful permanent resident, the total asset value - domestic or foreign - must be at least five times the difference between your annual income and the minimum required income as per the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

How Do I Get the Expertise of an Immigration Lawyer?

Considering the many guidelines, requirements, and forms that need to be included in a petition, the knowledge and experience of a spouse visa attorney are invaluable. An immigration attorney can help speed up your case in several ways, including:

  • Completing your CR1 petition
  • Ensuring your immigration case stays up-to-date
  • Helping you stay compliant with IRS guidelines, documentation, paperwork, renewals, and other responsibilities associated with the petition

Whether you need a work visa attorney, H1b immigration lawyers, or spousal visa legal services, UpCounsel provides hassle-free and convenient access to professional legal solutions. You can easily get the expertise of an immigration lawyer by visiting us online. Provide a brief and detailed description of your legal needs because that information will help us understand your case so that we can match you with the right law firm at an affordable immigration lawyer cost.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How much does a green card application cost?

The cost of applying for a family-based green card through marriage is $1,760 for an applicant living in the US or $1,200 for an applicant living abroad. That doesn't include the typical costs of the mandatory immigration medical exam, which varies from one provider to another.

What should I do if my spouse is ineligible for a visa?

If your spouse is ineligible for a visa - whether it's because of drug trafficking, submitting fraudulent marriage-based green card documents, or overstaying a previous visa - the consular officer will inform and advise you whether there's a waiver of the ineligibility available, and the process to follow.

Can DACA recipients apply for a green card?

If you're a DACA recipient, you might be wondering: "Can DACA recipients apply for green card?" Yes, in specific circumstances, DACA recipients can obtain green cards. All you need is to prove marriage to a US citizen, file an I-130 petition, get a visa number from the National Visa Center, and apply for an immigration visa through a consular process.

How long does it take for me to receive my foreign spouse's Social Security Number?

If you chose to have your foreign spouse receive your Social Security Number upon admission into the US, you'll receive the card by mail within six weeks to the US address you indicated on your application form. If you didn't opt for reception by mail, you'll have to apply for the Social Security Card to be issued a day after they've entered entry into the US.