Financial Requirements to Get a DV Lottery Green Card

Applicants must overcome the public charge ground of inadmissibility in order to get permanent residency after winning the "green card lottery".

Before a visa lottery winner can be approved for a green card (U.S. lawful permanent residence), the person must prove that he or she is not inadmissible. One of the grounds of inadmissibility is that the person is likely to become a public charge (depend primarily on government assistance based on financial need). To overcome this ground of inadmissibility, lottery winners will need to provide documentary evidence that they have available means of support.

For a more general overview of the process, see Green Card Application Process After Winning The DV Lottery.

Showing Personal Sources of Income or Support

The immigrant should attempt to show ownership of property and assets, a job offer in the U.S., or that the immigrant is already living legally in the United States with a job that pays a sufficient income, in order to overcome the public charge ground of inadmissibility. For example, you may submit:

  • a job offer letter from a U.S. employer, or pay stubs from existing employment in the U.S.
  • copies of bank statements showing current balance, or preferably a bank statement showing annual deposits and withdrawals as well as current balance, and how the money will be transferred to the U.S.
  • copies of land deeds or other evidence of real estate ownership, along with any mortgage statements showing the amount of remaining debt
  • copies of documents showing ownership of insurance policies
  • evidence of other income, such as from investments or royalties.

Having a Sponsor Sign Form I-134 Affidavit of Support

If the immigrants' sources of financial support are not sufficient on their own, one possibility is to find a U.S. sponsor to fill out an Affidavit of Support on Form I-134, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can download Form I-134 and instructions from the USCIS website.

(Note: Although the Form I-134 is usually reserved for use with temporary visas, and the Form I-864 is usually used with applications for green cards, the DV lottery visa uses the Form I-134.)

Form I-134 must be filled out by someone who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The person need not be a family member, but should have a close enough relationship with the immigrant that the immigration authorities believe the sponsor will make sure that the immigrant will not need to apply for public assistance or welfare for up to three years after becoming a permanent resident. See I-134 Affidavit of Support: Instructions & Tips for Sponsors for more on completing this form.

Government Guidelines on Income and Asset Levels

How much is enough? The immigrant or sponsor’s income, or assets (which must be convertible to cash within one year) must be enough to support the immigrant (as well as the sponsor’s own household) at the level of 125% of the current Poverty Guidelines or above. For the current guidelines, go to  the www.uscis.gov page for "Form I-864P."

If family members are immigrating through the DV winner, they must also be listed on the Form I-134 as accompanying you, and the income and assets listed on Form I-134 must be enough to cover them, too.

Documents to Include With Form I-134

Whoever fills out Form I-134 will need to attach documents to show that the information contained in the form is true. These should include, where applicable: a copy of the most recent federal income taxes (with W-2s) showing the income of the person signing the Form I-134; a statement from the bank with details about accounts including the date opened, the total amount deposited for the past year, and the present balance; and a letter from the employer verifying current employment, job title, salary, and whether the position is permanent. Also attach a copy of the document that shows the immigration status of the person signing the Form I-134.

Extent of the Sponsor's Financial Obligation

When you ask a family member or friend to sign an Affidavit of Support on your behalf, that person will want to know the legal extent of the financial obligations that come with it. A full explanation is provided in Section III of the Instructions to Form I-134 on the USCIS website. The signer does not promise to support the immigrant. What he or she does agree to do is to reimburse the U.S. government if the immigrant obtains certain financial benefits by fraud, that is, by misrepresenting income, immigration status, or the income of the Form I-134 signer. The Affidavit of Support promise lasts for three years. After that, the responsibility of the signer of the Affidavit of Support comes to an end.

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